Novel Magneto-Optical Biosensors for Malaria Diagnosis
Luke Savage and Dave Newman led engineers at Exeter University in the United Kingdom in a program to develop a handheld, inexpensive battery-powered instrument that can rapidly diagnose malaria. By using magneto-optics to detect the hemozoin crystals produced as a byproduct of malaria parasite digestion of hemoglobin in the red blood cell, they avoid relying on invasive blood sampling. The project's Phase I research produced a robust hand-held diagnostic device able under laboratory conditions to detect malarial infection at well below 100 parasitized red blood cells per microliter in less than two minutes. In Phase II, simpler yet improved second generation devices will undergo further development and clinical testing under field conditions until they can meet the sensitivity and specificity standards required of a test for malaria.