New Gum Could Detect Malaria

New Gum Could Detect Malaria

Maliva is a chewing gum laden with magnetic nanoparticles that may represent a cheap and effective delivery method for diagnosing Malaria in under-served populations.

Jon Lombardo
  • 17 december 2009

Maliva is a chewing gum laden with magnetic nanoparticles that may represent a cheap and effective delivery method for diagnosing Malaria in under-served populations. The research project, which is led by Dr. Andrew Fung and funded by The Gates Foundation, diagnoses malaria by looking for the same blood antigens in your saliva that are found in your blood — which is the traditional testing model.

This novel method would see patients chew gum for a couple of minutes, generating saliva that contains malaria parasites. The magnetic nanoparticles, which are infused with antigen-detecting antibodies, would then attach themselves to the malaria parasite molecules. The patient can then remove the gum and place it on a special paper strip. If the patient has malaria, the malaria-infused nanoparticles will show up as a thin line on the paper. Of course, if no line shows up, then the patient is malaria-free.

Equally exciting is the potential for distribution of the gum. Because the gum is cheaper than traditional antigen testing, it can be easily purchased and distributed anywhere that regular gum is currently sold. In addition, researchers are also looking at other diseases that may be able to use saliva-based testing to reach traditionally under-served and underfunded populations.

[via Discovery News]


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