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New malaria test kit gives a boost to elimination efforts worldwide
Date:5/17/2013

A new, highly sensitive blood test that quickly detects even the lowest levels of malaria parasites in the body could make a dramatic difference in efforts to tackle the disease in the UK and across the world, according to new research published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

In two studies led by researchers in the UK and Switzerland, the new LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) test was compared to existing methods in London laboratories that deal with imported cases of malaria to the UK, and to diagnostic methods used in the field in Uganda, where malaria is a leading cause of illness and death.

The simple test, which can be performed by a non-specialist health worker and does not need refrigerating like other tests, requires a sample of blood to be processed and placed in a test tube with a reactive powder then heated. If the malaria-causing Plasmodium parasites are present, the tube glows green. The whole process takes less than an hour.

The first study, led in London by the Hospital for Tropical Diseases (HTD), the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), compared LAMP to existing laboratory diagnostic methods on 705 blood samples of suspected imported malaria cases in the UK.

Dr Colin Sutherland, Clinical Scientist at HTD and Reader in Parasitology at the Malaria Reference Laboratory at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "According to data collected for Public Health England by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the UK treats at least 1,500 cases of imported malaria every year. Despite the very best efforts of the NHS, a handful of malaria related deaths still occur annually in UK hospitals. The new LAMP test for malaria performed very well when tested in the parasite reference laboratory at HTD, and correctly identified every malaria patient out of 705 malaria tests performed.

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Contact: Katie Steels
press@lshtm.ac.uk
44-020-792-92802
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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