Friday, August 7, 2009

Microchip detects malaria in Glasgow

"Scientists from Glasgow University claim they have created a device which can detect malaria within minutes." A microchip has been created to detect the malaria parasites in a blood sample. After the "blood samples are placed in the microchip" the device detects "the strain of disease. This means the best drug can be used to treat it." This method of detection is much better than previous methods because it is more accurate and faster (BBC).

"The current way of diagnosing is using a blood smear on a slide and examining it on a microscope," said project-leader Dr Ranford-Cartwright. "That will take a good microscopist a good hour to reach a diagnosis, it's extremely difficult to make that diagnosis accurately." This microchip "can give us a result in as little as half an hour."

Although malaria is less prevalent in the UK than in tropical regions of the world, it is not absent. "Last year a study revealed more cases of the most dangerous type of malaria than ever before are being brought back to the UK from trips abroad." Most malaria infections are imported, but the number of detected cases is rising. "The Health Protection Agency study identified 6,753 cases of falciparum malaria diagnosed between 2002 and 2006" (BBC).

Correct diagnosis is only one step toward malaria eradication. Another involves the development and use of effective drugs in the fight against the parasite. Ranford-Cartwright leads several research programs at the University of Glasgow including studies that examine the genetic markers for drug resistance. She says, "For this work we maintain different species of Anopheles mosquitoes in insectaries, and we infect them with P. falciparum sexual stages grown in culture. We use genetic techniques to study complex traits such as the interaction between the malaria parasite and its mosquito vector. We are also involved in work to identify factors important in the spread of anti-malarial resistance" (Ranford-Cartwright). "There is" further "need for a specific, sensitive, robust, and large-scale method for diagnosis of drug resistance genes in natural Plasmodium falciparum infections" (Abdel-Muhsin).

Abdel-Muhsin, AM. LC Ranford-Cartwright, et al. "Detection of mutations in the Plasmodium falciparum dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr) gene by dot-blot hybridization." Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 67(1), 2002, pp. 24-27

BBC News. "Doctors welcome Malaria Microchip." 24 April 2009.

Ranford-Cartwright, Lisa. "Research Interests." University of Glasgow. 7 August 2009.

1 comment:

  1. It is amazing what they can do with science and medicine these days. Thanks for the info.