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A low-cost, LED based, fluorescent antibody test for the detection of the five human malaria species
© Rajasekariah et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2010
- Published: 20 October 2010
- Malaria Diagnosis
- Direct Fluorescent Antibody
- Fluorescent Antibody Staining
- Lead Adapter
Conventional blood film microscopy for malaria diagnosis remains a tedious and time-consuming activity requiring examination of 100 to 200 Giemsa stained oil-immersion fields. In expert hands, blood film microscopy is highly sensitive but for the vast majority of laboratories accuracy of diagnosis is little better than 70%, particularly at low levels of parasitaemia. The introduction of lateral flow immunochromatography rapid tests (RDTs) over the past 15 years has gone some way towards addressing this problem but again these tests encounter sensitivity problems particularly when parasite numbers are low. The issue of sensitivity can be overcome by multiplex PCR assay systems but at the present time this technology is restricted to a few major reference laboratories. One sensitive immunological method that has not been applied to malaria diagnosis is direct immunofluorescence (DFA), mainly because the high cost and maintenance of UV microscopes has made their routine use impractical and prohibitively expensive. However the availability of a new generation of low cost, LED fluorescence microscopes (powered by mains, car battery or solar battery) puts this technology in reach of almost any laboratory or field station. One LED adapter allows the conversion of any light microscope into a fluorescent microscope in a matter of minutes. We report here the development of a DFA staining technique for the detection of the five human malaria species. The method is highly sensitive with antibody specificity providing a significant advantage to the operator.
Parasites/micro-field (400x magnification)
P. falciparum (0.01%)
P. falciparum (0.1%)
P. falciparum (0.7%)
P. falciparum (1.4%)
Too many to count
Direct fluorescent antibody staining of malaria parasites coupled with the use of low cost LED microscopes should increase the reliability of malaria diagnosis in resource-deprived settings and provide enhanced sensitivity, thus facilitating reliable detection of low density parasitaemias and subsequent early treatment, which may aid in minimizing emergence of drug resistance.
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.