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Life-saving light beam can now detect malaria

ANI | Updated: Dec 09, 2022 23:52 IST


Queensland [Australia], December 9 (ANI): A team led by the University of Queensland has created a quick, needle-free malaria diagnostic technology that has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives each year.
The research is published in PNAS Nexus.
However, researchers have developed a gadget that flashes a beam of safe infrared light on a person's finger or ear for five to ten seconds. This technology collects an infrared signature that is then analysed by a computer algorithm.
Dr Maggy Lord, the international team leader from the School of Biological Sciences at UQ, predicted that the technology would completely alter how malaria is combatted on a global scale.
"But with this tool, we can find out very quickly whether a whole village or town is suffering from, or carrying, malaria.
"The technique is chemical-free, needle-free and detects malaria through the skin using infrared light - it's literally just a flash on a person's skin and it's done.
"The device is smartphone operated, so results are acquired in real-time."
The researchers believe that technology is the first step to eliminating 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.
"Most of the cases are in sub-Saharan Africa, where 90 per cent of deaths are children under five years old.
"The biggest challenge in eliminating the disease is the presence of asymptomatic people in a population who act as a reservoir for transmission by mosquitos.
"The World Health Organisation has proposed large-scale surveillance in endemic areas and this non-invasive, affordable and rapid tool offers a way to achieve that."
The technology could also help tackle other diseases.
"We've successfully used this technology on mosquitoes to non-invasively detect infections such as malaria, Zika and dengue," Dr Lord said.
"In our post-COVID world, it could be used to better tackle diseases as people move around the globe.
"We hope the tool could be used at ports of entry to screen travellers, minimising the re-introduction of diseases and reducing global outbreaks.
"It's still early days, but this proof-of-concept is exciting." (ANI)

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