Pregnancy-Test Style Malaria Kit to Speed Up Diagnosis

Monday, December 7, 2015

A paper-and-plastic kit that works like a pregnancy test but using blood rather than urine may offer a fast and simple way to diagnose malaria.

The kit works by multiplying any parasite DNA in a blood sample and displaying results on a strip, even if a patient has only a small number of parasites.

“To determine the result, the user simply looks at the strip through the transparent plastic of the device to see how many lines are present,” says Mike Cordray, a researcher at Rice University in the United States, who did the work as part of his PhD thesis. If the parasite DNA is present, there are two lines, whereas one line means there is no parasite DNA.

The Malaria Journal study, published on 26 November, was a proof-of-principle study, meaning the scientists were testing whether the kit could detect the parasite in synthetic samples. But they are confident it will work in the field, says author Rebecca Richards-Kortum, a bioengineer at Rice University.

“We are now testing it with clinical samples in the lab,” she says.

There have been 214 million cases of malaria this year. The disease is currently diagnosed either by using a microscope to visually check a blood sample for parasites or by detecting the presence of parasite molecules in the sample using a method known as rapid diagnostic testing.

Source: Science and Development Network (link opens in a new window)

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