Good Medicine

Fighting Malaria with Candy

A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but why bother when you could just give patients chocolate? That's what Bill Gates wants to do. Through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he's given $100,000 in grants each to scientists who want to use candy to diagnose and treat malaria. UCLA doctoral candidate Andrew Fung received a grant to use gum to detect malaria indicators in saliva, making the test painless. Steven Maranz, a researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College will use his money to study the effects of chocolate, which binds to and removes the cholesterol the malaria parasite needs to survive from the bloodstream. Maranz thinks chocolate may be able to kill most parasites while leaving enough in the blood to help children develop a lifetime resistance. The five-year grants for malaria are part of the foundation's Grand Challenges Exploration program, which also gave $100,000 to 74 other unconventional approaches to world problems.