The bio-sensor can detect the presence of malaria in the blood of a patient within 30 minutes.
Photo: © Pan American Health Organization

02.03.2018

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A simple, sensitive and reduced cost paper-based bio-sensor with a low quantity of chemicals for the early diagnosis of malaria has been developed by Brazilian researchers. It detects falciparum malaria protein within 30 minutes. The device could be useful for endemic hard-to-reach populations.

A strip of chromatography paper similar to that used in rapid pregnancy tests is the basis of a bio-sensor for detecting malaria that has been developed by Brazilian researchers.

The strip, designed for early diagnosis of infection caused by the Plasmodium falciparum parasites responsible for the most aggressive and lethal form of the disease, gives a result within 30 minutes of being immersed in a solution with samples of blood, serum or saliva of an infected person. Current tests take between two and ten days to give a result.

If the paper strip changes its colour, it means that histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2) — a protein excreted only by P. falciparum in the first days after the infection — is present in the bloodstream.

During lab tests, the device was able to detect the presence of HRP2 even when the parasite had produced it in low quantities.

The bio-sensor has been tested with blood samples of both healthy people and people infected by the parasite.

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