New malaria detection system deemed highly effective
The study conducted to research the LAMP test, which stands for loop-mediated isothermal amplification test, was led by U.K. researchers from the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics. The study used the LAMP test on 705 blood samples of suspected imported malaria cases in London, and compared the results to traditional test methods.
The LAMP test is simple and can be performed by a non-specialist health worker by placing a blood sample in a test tube with a reactive powder then heating it. If the parasites that cause malaria, Plasmodium parasites, are present, the tube glows green. The entire process takes less than an hour and does not require refrigeration.
Aside from ease of use, Dr. Colin Sutherland of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said the new LAMP testing is more accurate than traditional methods, which require specialists to diagnose blood samples, and the polymerase chain reaction test.
"An important advantage of LAMP is that non-specialist staff in any hospital in the UK will be able to accurately and rapidly detect the presence of malaria parasites, and immediately begin treatment without waiting for confirmation from local experts or specialist laboratories," Sutherland said. "This speed of diagnosis can make the difference between an uncomplicated episode of malaria that rapidly responds to treatment, and progression to severe disease, organ failure and heightened risk of death. It could also save the NHS a significant amount of money from having to treat the complications of malaria."
The findings of the LAMP test detected extremely low levels of malaria parasites that were missed by expert microscopy, allowing for faster treatment of disease before the parasites have an opportunity to progress in the body. Some of the samples tested were from patients that reported no symptoms.