Thanks to researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), malaria can now be diagnosed in its early stages with the help of an innovative micro-fluid device. Malaria is an infectious disease of humans and animals. It is carried by mosquitoes and spread through the insect’s bite. Through the mosquito’s saliva, the microorganism that gives malaria is introduced in the person’s bloodstream. Malaria is endemic in areas of America, most parts of Asia and Africa. Millions of people are diagnosed with this disease each year and hundreds of thousands die because of it.
Two MIT researchers, Anantha Chandrakasan and Subra Suresh, have built a micro-fluid device. This particular instrument takes a drop of blood and streams it over an electrode. The electrode records the changes in the cells’ electric properties. Afterwards it shows whether a cell is infected or not. The device is the first step towards creating a portable, cheap malaria-discovery device. It could be taken to developing countries in order to discover malaria cases and treat them accordingly. The final goal is to have an instrument that is able to detect malaria in all its stages. In the future, such a device could be used for the discovery of other infections or diseases.
When a cell is infected, it becomes more magnetic and more rigid. The ability to discern the parasite’s stage from a single drop of blood is a very important step in diagnosing malaria. Usually, the disease is diagnosed visually with the help of a microscope. Recently, rapid diagnostic tests detect an antigen to the parasite. However, none of these devices are cheap or quick. The new device proposed by MIT researchers is able to differentiate between the three stages of the parasite’s development.
When the technology will be introduced in a small and not-expensive package, the new innovation will be ready for use on mass scale. Do you think this invention will spread easily?
(Source: Lab on a chip Journal)