Bill Gates is at it again, throwing money at any researcher with a claim to fame and everything to gain by using scientific advances to prevent as many babies as possible from being born. Soft kill drugs in the pretext of protection is the common theme for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Cheap, effective contraceptive and HIV pharmaceuticals are now the objectives soon to target the third world.
A University of Washington team has developed a platform they say simultaneously offers contraception and prevents HIV. Electrically spun cloth with nanometer-sized fibers can dissolve to release drugs, providing a platform for cheap medical use. The research was published this week in the Public Library of Science’s open-access journal PLoS One. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last month awarded the UW researchers almost $1 million to pursue the technology.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed 10 billion dollars over the next ten years to make it the most aggressive decade ever to roll out new vaccines to poor nations around the world. The commitmentwill also effectively create widespread fertility problems across vaccinated populations.
Bill Gates told a recent TED conference, an organization which is sponsored by one of the largest toxic waste polluters on the planet, that vaccines need to be used to reduce world population figures in order to solve global warming and lower CO2 emissions.
“We have the drugs to do that. It’s really about delivering them in a way that makes them more potent, and allows a woman to want to use it,” said author Kim Woodrow, a UW assistant professor of bioengineering.
Electrospinning uses an electric field to catapult a charged fluid jet through air to create very fine, nanometer-scale fibers. The fibers can be manipulated to control the material’s solubility, strength and even geometry. Fibers may be even better at delivering medicine than existing technologies such as gels, tablets or pills.
Nano-microchips invisible to the naked eye are a reality that are already being hosted in wide-range of applications.
No high temperatures are involved, so the method is suitable for heat-sensitive molecules. The fabric can also incorporate large molecules, such as proteins and antibodies, that are hard to deliver through other methods.
The final material is a stretchy fabric. “This method allows controlled release of multiple compounds,” said coauthor Cameron Ball. “We were able to tune the fibers to have different release properties.”
One of the fabrics they made dissolves within minutes, potentially offering users immediate, discrete protection against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Another dissolves gradually over a few days, providing an option for sustained delivery, more like the birth-control pill, Â to provide contraception and guard against HIV.
The fabric could incorporate many fibers to include more than one anti-HIV drug. Mixed fibers could be designed to release drugs at different times to increase their potency, like the prime-boost method used in vaccines.
The electrospun cloth could be inserted directly in the body or be used as a coating on vaginal rings or other products.
This is the first study to use nanofibers for vaginal drug delivery. Critics claim that no long-term studies have been established to assess safety which could pose serious health implications to third world countries where the cloths are targeted for use.
Further research is needed into the risks associated with the growing field of nanotechnology manufacture. A vast and rapidly expanding array of engineered nano-products are flooding the consumer market unregulated as evidence of toxicities accumulate.
The team is focusing on places like Africa, but the technology could be used in the U.S. or other countries to offer birth control.
The team will use the new Gates Foundation grant to evaluate the versatility and feasibility of their system. The group will hire more research staff and buy an electrospinning machine to make butcher-paper sized sheets. The expanded team will then spend a year testing combinations that deliver two antiretroviral drugs and a hormonal contraceptive, and then six months scaling up production of the most promising materials.
No long-term studies have been planned before officially releasing the new drug technology to the public. The public will be the long-term study.