Molecular Test for Malaria

Current Situation of Malaria Diagnosis

In 2018, there were approximately 228 million estimated cases of malaria identified globally [*1]. However, approximately 20–70% of the malaria infections are reported to be undetected by current non-nucleic acid tests such as microscopy and rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) [*2].

Microscopy and RDTs can detect Plasmodium infection when the parasite count is higher than 50,000–200,000/mL of whole blood [*2].

Innovative Tool for Malaria Diagnosis “Malaria LAMP”

Malaria LAMP is a comprehensive molecular solution introduced for the diagnosis of malaria. The limit of detection is 1–2 parasites/µL [*3], which is far lower than microscopy and RDTs. In addition, Malaria LAMP can differentiate between Plasmodium pan species, P. falciparum and P. vivax, and has a sensitivity of 84–94%, a specificity of >92% [*4].

The assay has potential as a reference standard in resource limited settings; and as a tool for surveillance and screening when a highly sensitive assay is needed.

Difference from PCR tests:

Malaria LAMP offers a field-friendly alternative to PCR tests as it can be set easily outside reference laboratories. Moreover, Malaria LAMP presents many operational advantages over PCR, including minimal equipment using heat-blocks, shorter time-to-result (40 min), lower cost and visible results to the naked eye under blue LED light.

Academic Presentations

  • “Experience with Malaria-LAMP in Laos and Haiti: Importance of submicroscopic/asymptomatic malaria detection toward malaria elimination.”
  • Shigeyuki Kano, MD.,PhD. Department of Tropical Medicine and Malaria, Research Institute, National Center for Global Health and Medicine (NCGM), Tokyo, Japan

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  • “Plasmodium vivax: challenges in diagnosis, treatment, and elimination.”
  • Xavier Ding, PhD. Malaria Team Leader, Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND).

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References

  1. World malaria report 2019. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2019. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
  2. Malaria rapid diagnostic test performance: summary results of WHO product testing of malaria RDTs: round 1-8 (2008–2018). Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
  3. Howes RE, Battle KE, Mendis KN, et al. Global Epidemiology of Plasmodium vivax. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2016 Dec 28;95(6 Suppl):15-34.
  4. Mohon AN, Getie S, Jahan N, et al. Ultrasensitive loop mediated isothermal amplification (US-LAMP) to detect malaria for elimination. Malar J. 2019;18(1):350

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