Peter Lillehoj of Michigan State University in the U.S. will develop a low-cost skin patch that can rapidly and safely detect malaria. Current diagnostics for malaria generally require the extraction of blood, which is painful and prohibited in certain cultures. The patch will consist of an array of microneedles that painlessly collects interstitial fluid from just beneath the skin surface that is known to contain proteins from the malaria parasite in infected individuals. This sample will then be transferred to a lateral flow test strip that carries a malaria protein-specific antibody. In the presence of malaria, the test strip would indicate a positive diagnosis by displaying colored lines. They will optimize the performance of the patch by testing different arrangements of microneedles and different methods of fabrication, and develop a prototype for preliminary evaluation on synthetic and animal skin samples spiked with malaria.
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