New malaria test kit boosts elimination efforts worldwide 

31/05/2013 00:00 

A new malaria test kit designed by scientists at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases could make a dramatic difference to efforts to tackle the disease in the UK and across the world.

 Anopheles gambiae, the African mosquito that transmits malaria

Anopheles gambiae, the African mosquito that transmits malaria

The new, highly sensitive blood test quickly detects even the lowest levels of malaria parasites in the body, according to new research published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The simple LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) test can be performed by a non-specialist health worker and does not need refrigerating like other tests. It requires a sample of blood to be processed and placed in a test tube with a dried reaction mixture then heated. If the malaria-causing Plasmodium parasites are present, the reaction causes the tube to glow green. The whole process takes less than an hour.

The research, led by the HTD and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found the test exceeded routine methods in London laboratories that deal with imported cases of malaria to the UK, and to diagnostic methods used in the field in Uganda, where malaria is a leading cause of illness and death.

Dr Colin Sutherland, Clinical Scientist at the HTD said: "The 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."

Researchers have also started using LAMP in Africa as a new tool for identifying ‘hot spots’ of malaria infections which can be mopped up quickly through a combination of drug treatment, house spraying and distribution of bed-nets

Dr Sutherland added: "Patterns of malaria disease in Africa and elsewhere across the tropics are becoming much less predictable, and control of malaria needs an appropriate test to identify infected individuals in the populations at risk. LAMP will potentially contribute to saving many families and communities from the blight of a disease that keeps children from succeeding at school, prevents adults from growing food or working, holds back regional economies and exacts an annual death toll in the hundreds of thousands."


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