Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Anti-tank missile detector joins fight against malaria

Date:
July 17, 2014
Source:
Monash University
Summary:
State-of-the-art military hardware could soon fight malaria, one of the most deadly diseases on the planet. Researchers have used an anti-tank Javelin missile detector, more commonly used in warfare to detect the enemy, in a new test to rapidly identify malaria parasites in blood. The technique is based on Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, which provides information on how molecules vibrate.

State-of-the-art military hardware could soon fight malaria, one of the most deadly diseases on the planet.

Researchers at Monash University and the University of Melbourne have used an anti-tank Javelin missile detector, more commonly used in warfare to detect the enemy, in a new test to rapidly identify malaria parasites in blood.

Scientists say the novel idea, published in the journal Analyst, could set a new gold standard for malaria testing.

The technique is based on Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, which provides information on how molecules vibrate.

Researchers used a special imaging detector known as a Focal Plane Array (FPA) to detect malaria parasite-infected red blood cells. Originally developed for Javelin anti-tank heat seeking missiles, the FPA gives highly detailed information on a sample area in minutes. The heat-seeking detector, which is coupled to an infrared imaging microscope, allowed the team to detect the earliest stages of the malaria parasite in a single red blood cell.

The infrared signature from the fatty acids of the parasites enabled the scientists to detect the parasite at an earlier stage, and crucially determine the number of parasites in a blood smear.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Bayden Wood from Monash University said to reduce mortality and prevent the overuse of antimalarial drugs; a test that can catch malaria at its early stages is critical.

"Our test detects malaria at its very early stages, so that doctors can stop the disease in its tracks before it takes hold and kills. We believe this sets the gold standard for malaria testing," Associate Professor Wood said.

"There are some excellent tests that diagnose malaria. However, the sensitivity is limited and the best methods require hours of input from skilled microscopists, and that's a problem in developing countries where malaria is most prevalent," he said.

As well as being highly sensitive, the new test has a number of advantages -- it gives an automatic diagnosis within four minutes, doesn't require a specialist technician and can detect the parasite in a single blood cell.

The disease, which is caused by the malaria parasite, kills 1.2 million people every year. Existing tests look for the parasite in a blood sample. However the parasites can be difficult to detect in the early stages of infection. As a result the disease is often spotted only when the parasites have developed and multiplied in the body.

Professor Leann Tilley from the University of Melbourne said the test could make an impact in large-scale screening of malaria parasite carriers who do not present the classic fever-type symptoms associated with the disease.

"In many countries only people who display signs of malaria are treated. But the problem with this approach is that some people don't have typical flu-like symptoms associated with malaria, and this means a reservoir of parasites persists that can reemerge and spread very quickly within a community," she said.

"Our test works because it can detect the malaria parasite at the very early stages and can reliably detect it in an automated manner in a single red blood cell. No other test can do that," Professor Tilley said.

FPA detectors were originally developed for portable Javelin anti-tank missiles in the 1990s. The heat seeking detector is used on shoulder fired missiles but can also be installed on tracked, wheeled or amphibious vehicles, providing spatial and spectral information in a matter of seconds and are currently used by the defence force.

The FPA detector used in this project was coupled to a synchrotron source located at InfraRed Environmental Imaging (IRENI) facility at the Synchrotron Radiation Center (SRC) in Wisconsin, developed by Professor Carol Hirschmugl. The continued development of brighter laboratory based infrared sources along with optical refinements will see this type of technology make an enormous impact in the clinical environment.

The next phase of research will see Associate Professor Wood's team work with Professor Patcharee Jearanaikoon from the Kohn Kaen University in Thailand to test the new technology in hospital clinics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Monash University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bayden Robert Wood, Keith Raymond Bambery, Matthew Dixon, Leann Tilley, Michael Nasse, Eric Mattson, Carol Hirschmugl. Diagnosing malaria infected cells at the single cell level using focal plane array Fourier transform infrared imaging spectroscopy. The Analyst, 2014; DOI: 10.1039/C4AN00989D

Cite This Page:

Monash University. "Anti-tank missile detector joins fight against malaria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717095120.htm>.
Monash University. (2014, July 17). Anti-tank missile detector joins fight against malaria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717095120.htm
Monash University. "Anti-tank missile detector joins fight against malaria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717095120.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

AFP (July 23, 2014) America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th. Thousands turned out for a free clinic run by "Remote Area Medical" with a visit from the Governor of Virginia. Duration: 2:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins