A University of Tennessee chemistry professor has received a prestigious $100,000 grant to redesign a practical health solution that could cut down on the spread of deadly diseases: condoms.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded UT professor Jimmy Mays the funds to build a prototype using his research with superlastomers, a material that can be repeatedly stretched further than existing rubbers without deformation. This advancement will allow condoms to be thinner, less expensive and allow for texture on the condoms surface, changes that researchers and global health advocates hope will lead more men to use the safety precaution.

While condoms are extremely effective, they are significantly under-used because of the stigma that they decrease pleasure, according to the foundation.

The foundation, as part of its work with the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, issued a challenge to researchers to create the "next generation of condoms." The goal is help stop the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases like HIV, which affects some 33 million people around the world, according to the foundation.

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