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  • Malaria breath test breakthrough

    Author: AAP

Australian scientists have discovered that malaria can be detected in the breath, paving the way for a simple and cheap test for the disease.

Diagnosing the deadly malaria disease could soon be as simple as taking a breath test.

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Australian scientists have made the groundbreaking discovery that malaria-infected patients have higher levels of certain chemicals in their breath.

The foul-smelling chemicals are undetectable to the human nose, but can be used to detect the disease much earlier than the traditional method of using a microscope to find parasites in blood.

The level of the chemicals increase with the severity of the mosquito-borne infection and disappear after cure.

"What is exciting is that the increase in these chemicals were present at very early stages of infection, when many other methods would have been unable to detect the parasite in the body of people infected with malaria," Dr Stephen Trowell, Research Group Leader at CSIRO said.

He was confident the breakthrough can be used to develop a cheap, quick and effective method of testing for the mosquito-borne disease in areas where it is endemic.

"We are also working with colleagues to develop very specific, sensitive and cheap 'biosensors' that could be used in the clinic and the field to test breath for malaria," he said.
In 2013 there were almost 200 million cases and over half a million deaths due to malaria, the World Health Organisation reports.


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