Highly-sensitive malaria diagnostic developed

Researchers in Denmark recently developed a sensitive new method to diagnose malarial infection from a single drop of blood or saliva.

The researchers believe a similar method could help aid countries with few resources combat the illness, according to

Despite large-scale monitoring and treatment programs, malaria continues to kill more than half a million people around the world every year, particularly in India, Asia and Africa. The frequency of epidemics has fallen, but the number of patients with low-grade infections appears to have increased.

A team from Aarhus University said that their method can fill the need to diagnose low-grade infections with accuracy. The method is based on measuring the activity an enzyme, topoisomerase I, that is present in the Plasmodium parasite, according to

The technology, called Rolling Circle-Enhanced Enzyme Activity Detection, or REEAD, can be used by personnel without extensive training or expensive equipment.

The method has proven more capable than other quick-tests at measuring whether a given infection is drug-resistant. It also makes it possible to diagnose less common malaria parasites, including P. knowlesi and P. malariae.

"This combination of molecular biologists, doctors, engineers and statisticians has been important for our success in developing the new method," University of Aarhus Associate Professor Birgitta Knudsen said, reports.