Smartphone operated tool uses light beam to detect malaria | News | Eco-Business

A rapid, cheap, non-invasive detection device could help accelerate progress towards meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals target of ending malaria, say the researchers who developed it.

The WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 aims to reduce malaria incidence and mortality by at least 75% by 2025 and by at least 90% by 2030 compared to the 2015 baseline.

But by 2021, both malaria cases and deaths are off 48 percent. According to Abdisalan Noor, head of the WHO Global Malaria Programme’s Strategic Information for Response Unit, based on the current pace, the world will fail to reach malaria targets by 88%.

To help get back on track, researchers in Australia and Brazil have come up with a handheld, smartphone-powered, near-infrared spectrometer that shines infrared light on a person’s ears, arms or fingers for about five seconds. Flashes to detect changes in blood. due to malaria.

They hope it can be used for WHO-recommended universal screening as part of current malaria eradication strategies.

“If we can detect a large number of asymptomatic patients, they can receive treatment and prevent others from becoming infected, especially children under the age of five,” lead author of the study. says Maggie Lord, published on December 7. PNAS Nexus.

As malaria control efforts intensify and countries progress towards elimination, sensitive diagnostic surveillance and early detection of outbreaks will play a key role.

Jean Auchan, Senior Research Advisor, Malaria Consortium

“By shining a light on a part of the body, an infrared signature is detected by a phone or computer,” explains Lord, a researcher at the University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences. SciDev.Net “This infrared signature reflects what is in a person’s blood. [As] Malaria infects red blood cells causing both structural and chemical changes – these changes are seen in the reflected signature.

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Computer algorithms are then used to develop predictive algorithms that can distinguish malaria-infected individuals from non-infected individuals, giving real-time results, she explains.

“These off-the-shelf spectrometers cost about US$2,500, but do not require sample processing procedures and reagents to operate and are therefore convenient for scanning an estimated 1,000 individuals per day per instrument. can be scanned from,” Lord added.

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The device is the result of a research collaboration between Australia’s University of Queensland and Brazil’s Instituto Osvaldo Cruz.

Lord says the technology could also help combat other vector-borne diseases, such as Zika and dengue, in humans, which serve as a reservoir for transmission by mosquitoes.

“This was just a proof of concept and with more funding, we will expand this study to other malaria endemic areas before recommending these devices for clinical use. We will continue our research with partners in Kenya and Tanzania. Expanding the work,” she adds.

WHO’s 2022 Global Malaria Report emphasizes the need to strengthen health systems and invest in new equipment, along with increased funding. An estimated 619,000 deaths and 247 million cases of malaria occurred globally in 2021. While African countries accounted for about 95 percent of cases and 96 percent of deaths, nine malaria-endemic countries in the Southeast Asia region accounted for nearly two deaths. Percentage of malaria burden in the past year.

In 2021, more than three-quarters of malaria cases in the WHO South-East Asia region were concentrated in India, with cases also increasing in Bangladesh, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Indonesia. In the WHO Western Pacific region, Papua New Guinea accounted for 87 percent of all cases in 2021, followed by the Solomon Islands, Cambodia and the Philippines.

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“Sensitive diagnostics will play a key role in surveillance and early detection of outbreaks as malaria control efforts intensify and countries move towards elimination,” says Jane Auchen, senior research advisor at the Malaria Consortium. Thus, there is an urgent need for new and innovative diagnostic tools, especially in light of emerging threats to the effectiveness of some currently available tools.

“Non-invasive malaria diagnostic tools are attractive as a rapid, reagent-free and inexpensive approach, but their sensitivity and specificity need to be validated in local conditions and evidence that they have global health implications. How can care be integrated into practice,” explains Achan, who is not affiliated with the study SciDev.Net.

This article was originally published by SciDev.Net. Read the original article.


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