A cheaper, easier way to test for malaria


You’re in a clinic in sub-saharan Africa.
This is a malaria clinic. Young child has a fever. The mother has a couple of
choices. Number one she can go buy the drugs that will treat malaria . Gonna
cost her a week’s wages. She’s gonna walk back and forth to the clinic for hours
or even days. The other choice is to bet that it’s not. Those are pretty bad odds.
See because the problem is if we treat with those drugs and we’re wrong then
we’re building up a resistance to the only drugs on this planet that work
right now What’s the mother gonna do? Is she gonna
hope that the child gets better? She’s got about a 65% chance that that’s the case.
The other side of the coin is she’s got a 35% chance in two days this child’s
going to be dead. Now imagine that she and her child can avoid that scenario
altogether. So from her cupboard she pulls out a urine malaria test kit and within
20 minutes she knows for sure whether the fever is malaria or not. NSF-funding was critical in us actually
being able to advance this technology from early research. The basic technology
is that malaria in acute stages causes fever and when it causes fever the body
breaks down some of the parasite proteins and excretes that in the urine.
I dip the stick in the urine sample, let it stand for about 20 minutes If two lines appear on the strip then my
fever is due to malaria. If only one line appears it’s not malaria The problem with malaria is that 220
million cases each and every year — that equates to two-thirds of the entire
population in the United States. We lose 500,000 people a year, mostly women and
children to malaria

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