A British leading expert on malaria has revealed insecticides used on nets in Africa are failing because no new repellents have been developed for 25 years.
At the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, which has been awarded higher education institution status, Prof. Janet Hemingway CBE spoke about tackling the deadly disease.
There could be millions of deaths if nets used to protect children and adults are not coated with more resistant chemicals to deter mosquitos.
The 115 year-old research centre is working with The Gates Foundation to develop new insecticides because the problem was ignored by big pharma for decades.
Using a $100m grant, Prof. Hemingway estimates that with advances in malaria preventative chemicals the lives of 120,000 children under five will be saved.
She said: "At the moment the insecticide on the nets is a classical pyrethroids that's been around for the last 30 years.
"The level of profit you can make from a public health insecticide is relatively small.
"Industry under its own guises hasn't actually developed any new insecticide for public health for the past 25 years.
"So about eight years ago, we persuaded The Gates Foundation that they should fund a programme for us to work with industry to develop insecticide for public health.
"We began working with manufacturers and although it will be a little while before we've got new insecticides coming through.
"However, we have several means of improving the performance of those nets using the original pyrethroids by adding a second ingredient.
"That will ensure that those nets will keep working for the next few years."