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Chewing gum and chocolate 'could improve international healthcare'

A variety of innovative ideas to tackle global health issues have been given the backing of IT giant Bill Gates.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has confirmed grants of $100,000 (£60,450) for 76 researchers to pursue their theories, which include using chocolate and chewing gum to fight malaria.

Chosen from almost 3,000 proposals, the final list includes scientists from 16 different countries.

Announcing the final selection, Dr Tachi Yamada, president of the foundation’s Global Health Program, said the projects will "hopefully produce a breakthrough idea that could save untold numbers of lives".

Now that funding has been granted, Steven Maranz, of Weill Cornell Medical College New York will test a compound occurring in chocolate to determine whether it can prevent malaria, while Andrew Fung, of the University of California, will try to develop a chewing gum that can detect the disease in saliva.

Further ideas to be explored include the building of an ‘electronic nose’ to diagnose tuberculosis and a study examining whether exercise can make certain vaccines more effective.

Last year saw the Seattle-based foundation pay out a total of $2.8 billion in grant funding.

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