If you needed a test for malaria right this second, it would involve drawing blood for analysis or using antigen detection tests. Both of these are expensive and time consuming, which means they’re not ideal in the centre of hot zone.

So it’s good news that scientists have developed a new method for malaria detection that aims to be cheaper and unobtrusive. It’s called The Transdermal Diagnosis of Malaria Using Vapor Nanobubbles, and if that sounds like a long-winded name for something, the speed at which this method can detect malaria in patients more than makes up for it.

Without going into the science of it or pointing you to the scientific journal, the method works as follows: the malaria parasites produce a waste product in the blood of infected people. A laser, at a certain wavelength, can pass through human tissue without damaging it and the waste from the parasites will absorb it. This causes the surrounding blood to bubble.  These bubbles then pop and, when compared to the original laser, can point out a malaria infection.

All of this is done without the person ever feeling a thing, and it is apparently completed in only twenty seconds.

The the news gets better it comes to the cost of this process; at $15 000 (R182 472) per unit, it can treat around 200 000 people per year with no extra costs (such as chemicals or trained staff). A single test could therefore cost less than 90 cents, significantly less than R6, which is the current cost per test.

[Source – New Scientist]