A team at the University of Queensland has developed a rapid, needle-free testing method for malaria that could potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives annually. The study has been released in PNAS Nexus. However, scientists have created a device that for five to ten seconds shines a beam of safe infrared light on a person’s finger or ear. This technique gathers an infrared signature, which a computer system then analyses. The technique, according to Dr. Maggy Lord, the international team leader from the School of Biological Sciences at UQ, will fundamentally change how malaria is combated on a worldwide basis.
But using this instrument, we can immediately determine whether a whole village or town is infected with malaria or has it. The method uses infrared light to detect malaria via the skin without the need of chemicals or needles; all it takes is a quick flash on the patient’s skin to complete the procedure.” Results are obtained in real-time since the gadget may be handled by a smartphone “Technology, according to the researchers, is the first step towards eradicating malaria.
“According to the World Health Organisation malaria report, in 2020 there were an estimated 241 million cases worldwide and more than 600,000 died from malaria,” Dr Lord said.
The majority of instances are in sub-Saharan Africa, where 90% of fatalities are children under the age of five. The existence of asymptomatic individuals in a population who serve as a reservoir for mosquito-borne illness transmission presents the largest obstacle to disease eradication. The World Health Organization has suggested widespread surveillance in endemic areas, and this quick, inexpensive, and non-invasive instrument provides a means of doing so. Other ailments could be treated with the use of the technology.
“We’ve successfully used this technology on mosquitoes to non-invasively detect infections such as malaria, Zika and dengue,” Dr Lord said. “It could be used to better combat diseases as people move around the world in our post-COVID world. “We expect that the technology will be used at entrance points to check travellers, minimising the reintroduction of illnesses and lowering worldwide epidemics.” “Although it is very early, this proof-of-concept is intriguing.”