Researchers, including an Indian-origin scientist, have developed the world’s first lightweight patch that can make people ‘invisible’ to pesky mosquitoes and could prove key in the battle against malaria.

The affordable patch is a colourful sticker, small enough to be worn virtually without notice. Once worn, it provides the user with up to 48 hours of protection from mosquitoes.

The technology hampers mosquitoes host-seeking behaviour, was identified at the University of California, Riverside in 2011, and has led to the development of the product that blocks mosquitoes’ ability to efficiently detect carbon dioxide, their primary method of tracking human blood meals.

The initial research was performed in the laboratory of Anandasankar Ray, an associate professor of entomology, and was featured in the journal Nature.

Mr. Ray’s lab identified volatile odour molecules that can impair, if not completely disrupt, mosquitoes’ carbon dioxide detection machinery.

Called the KiteTM Mosquito Patch, the product marks a significant advancement in the global fight against mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus and dengue fever.

The patch delivers mosquito-repelling compounds in a simple, affordable and scalable sticker that can be used by individuals in regions impacted by malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Estimated to cost a fraction of existing repellents, Kite is applied to clothing and can be used by people of all ages, including infants and pregnant mothers.

“I am very excited to see how Olfactor Labs has rapidly taken our initial discovery to a product that can have great value in the war against mosquitoes and disease,” Mr. Ray said.

“I am most impressed that they have designed something affordable and convenient for use in Africa and around the world. I am rooting for this to become a game changer in lowering instance of malaria, dengue, filariasis and other dangerous diseases,” said Mr. Ray.

Kite’s technology is the culmination of years of development work on a class of odour molecules, all of which are non-toxic compounds approved for human consumption by the US Food and Drug Administration.

“The Kite Mosquito Patch isn’t just another mosquito product, but a powerful alternative to most products on the market, enabling people to live normal lives with a new level of protection against contracting mosquito-borne diseases,” said Michelle Brown, the chief scientist and vice president of Olfactor Laboratories.

More In: Sci-Tech | Science