Malaria Surveillance: New Rapid Test For Diagnosis

Using saliva, the proposed method is intended to be used in poor remote communities.


A new way of testing for malaria by using saliva instead of blood was presented at the National Malaria Control Programme in Yaounde on Friday August 19, 2016. The Non-invasive Malaria Parasite DNA Sampling Strategy for Surveillance in Limited Settings project is funded by Grand Challenges Canada. It is managed by the Molecular Diagnostics Research Group of the Biotechnology Centre, Nkolbisson, Yaounde, led by Dr. Palmer Masumbe Netongo, a Senior Lecturer with the Faculty of Science of the University of Yaounde I.

Saliva-based collection is aimed at detecting the parasite that causes malaria in saliva, contrary to the existing method of using blood. The saliva-based collection and stabilization of plasmodium DNA, coupled with a method like the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), has sensitivity of 91 per cent and specificity of 92 per cent, compared to microscopy. The self-collection device is robust and easy to use to collect saliva from patients in remote endemic settings.

Plasmodium DNA can be stabilised and stored at temperature up to 50°c for up to one year, thereby enabling a proactive surveillance programme that does not rely on trained personnel and cool-chain transport. According to Dr. Palmer Masumbe, as the country continues to succeed in combating malaria, the importance of sub-patent malaria infections will become significant as this creates and maintains a reservoir of malaria transmission. The findings, according to him, add a new dimension to the diagnosis, treatment and epidemiology of malaria.

The new method has been proposed as a first step to malaria surveillance. The future impact of the study may include improved adherence of people during surveillance campaigns. The National Malaria Control Programme may consider the use of saliva-based LAMP, which can be conducted even in laboratories with limited resources.





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