Early results, now published in the Biophysical Journal, suggest that the technique could be as effective as RDTs but far faster and cheaper, making it a potentially viable alternative.
The team is now working on a non-invasive version of the device, which with the assistance of a team from the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Department of Biomedical Research in Amsterdam, it is planning to trial in Kenya later this year.
Two years in the making and funded by the European Union, this technique uses magneto-optic technology (MOT) to detect haemozoin, a waste product of the malarial parasite, in the blood. Haemozoin crystals are weakly magnetic and have a distinct rectangular form. They also exhibit optical dichroism, which means that they absorb light more strongly along their length than across their width. When aligned by a magnetic field they behave like a weak Polaroid© sheet such as used in sunglasses. This new technology takes advantage of these properties to give a precise reading of the presence of haemozoin in a small blood sample. The team has created a device, which gives a positive or negative reading for malaria in less than a minute.
The new device has a totally different approach from RDTs, which use a chemical agent to detect antigens associated with the malarial parasite. One of the problems with RDTs is that they need to be kept within a given temperature range, which is difficult in hot climates. These disposable kits cost between $1.50 and $4.50 each and take around 15 minutes to deliver a reading.
High-power microscopy is still the best method available for malaria diagnosis and has been used for more than a century. Unfortunately it is time-consuming and requires expensive equipment and specialist medical skills, which are rarely available in villages in rural areas in malaria endemic countries. Over the last decade RDTs have been developed, which allow for faster diagnosis in the field, but these are too costly to be viable for developing countries. Furthermore, RDTs are often not stable at relatively high temperatures and sometimes remain positive even after successful treatment. In many communities where malaria is having a severe impact on health, there is no testing for malaria and young children who have a fever are given anti-malaria drugs as a matter of course. This has contributed to the malarial parasite becoming increasingly resistant to the common anti-malaria drugs. Malaria is a disease for which there is still no vaccine.
Professor Dave Newman of the University of Exeter’s School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, said: “There is an urgent need for a new diagnostic technique for malaria, particularly in the light of global warming, which threatens to spread the disease into new parts of the world, including southern Europe. The early results from our device are very promising and hugely exciting. We expect to ultimately produce a sensitive non-invasive device that will be cost effective and easy to use, making it suitable for developing countries, where the need is greatest.”
Sarah Hoyle | EurekAlert!
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences