Chun Huh from the University of Texas at Austin in the U.S. will develop a malaria diagnostic test that can detect low levels of the parasite in saliva samples for use in resource-poor settings. Diagnosing malaria usually requires taking blood, which can be unsafe, difficult to do in children, and forbidden in certain cultures. Non-invasive tests that use saliva exist but are not sensitive enough to detect everyone with the disease or they require expensive and complex methods to increase the sensitivity. They will coat iron-oxide nanoparticles with a series of malaria antibodies, concentrate them by applying a magnetic field, and test how well they bind malaria antigens in saliva. They will also test whether a magnet can raise the sample temperature so that the malaria parasite can propagate to further improve sensitivity. The system will be incorporated into an immunochromatography assay for a visual readout of the test result and compared with current tests for diagnosing malaria.
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