MIT Team prepares next generation of devices for more reliable malaria diagnosisPosted: August 16, 2013
The collaborative MIT team of experts in microfluidics, circuit design, materials science and microbiology has designed their new cell-differentiating technology so that it can be packaged as a low-cost device, but more work needs to be done. “We are using our combined expertise to push the technology toward real-world applications,” Dao says.
Since this new detection method can, for the first time, differentiate among the three major stages of Plasmodium falciparum’s asexual development, Marti sees another potential application: The device may also be able to distinguish cells infected with the parasite at its transmission stage, the stage in which mosquitos can pick it up from humans and transmit it to other humans. “If we could use the device to detect malaria infection and the potential for transmission at the same time, that would make it even more interesting,” Marti says.
The next steps for further development involve integrating this new technology into a small, low-cost package. “Our hope is that such technologies as those described in this work will ultimately help meet the need for a new generation of portable, disposable and inexpensive diagnostics for a variety of human diseases,” Suresh says.
The team is also interested in using the device to investigate the electrical properties of other types of diseased cells to see if electrical impedance changes could be used for diagnostics.
This work was carried out with the assistance of the Fulbright Science and Technology Award. Device fabrications were carried out at MTL. The work was supported by Singapore’s National Research Foundation through the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and by SMART, MIT’s Center for Integrated Circuits and Systems and the National Institutes of Health.