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Malaria tests now in 10 secs at Rs 10: All you need to know about this kit

Testing system has accuracy of 90%; can also be developed for other diseases, including dengue

BS Web Team & Agencies  |  New Delhi 

Chikungunya, dengue, malaria sting New Delhi; over 1,700 people affected

A mounted with a super-cheap paper microscope can detect the presence of malarial parasites in the blood in 10 seconds, says an Indian researchers' team, which has developed a system that archives data and maps the real-time distribution of the disease in a particular locality.

Dubbed "Centaur", the framework for detection, monitoring and mitigation of the deadly disease has been created by Nilanjan Daw, Debapriya Paul and Nilanjana Dutta Roy from Institute of Engineering and Management, in collaboration with Arindam Biswas of IIEST, Shibpur.

It aims to eradicate human error, enhance diagnosis in remote areas and enable treatment as fast as possible.

Here are 10 key highlights of how the device works:

Every patient will incur a cost of only Rs 10 for each test against a drop of blood taken from the tip of his finger.
The remote testing facility will give results within 10-12 seconds and provide a hard copy of the report and the case details are archived for future reference.
The testing system has an accuracy of 90 per cent. The algorithm can also be developed for other diseases, including
The set-up uses a paper microscope, also known as 'foldscope', which is an optical microscope that can be assembled from simple components, including paper and lens. 
When you adjust the camera a little, Foldscope, with the help of a mobile camera, clicks a magnified image (enabled by the microscope) of the blood sample and that image is stored by the camera.
Through internet connection and via an app, the image is transmitted to a server hosted by IIEST. Then, an algorithm developed by the team will process the image and will be able to find out whether malarial parasites are there or not.

Since it links GPS data with the test case, the system generates a real-time disease heat map that gets updated to reflect each case tested by the system, giving an always-up-to-date view of the malaria breakout scenario of an area, providing health care workers with the much-needed early warning before an imminent epidemic.
The detection kit, including the Foldscope, has a manufacturing cost of Rs 80. is popularly known as the "$1 Microscope" developed by Manu Prakash and his team at Stanford University. It is pocket-size and can be folded into a microscope origami-style.
All tests performed by the system are automatically logged on the remote central server.
The developers aim to train social workers in remote villages on using the device if it gets the nod for mass production.

“We are planning to have a small camera-based, internet and GPS-enabled device for remote areas where people may not have mobile phones. It has an accuracy of 90 per cent. The algorithm can also be developed for other diseases, including dengue," Arindam Biswas, one of the creators, said.

Biswas said he had collaborated with the project, undertaken by his PhD student and IEM Professor Nilanjana Dutta Roy and two of her research scholars at the institute - Nilanjan Daw and Debapriya Paul.

To a question about patenting the kit, he said, "The paper microscope has been already there and it was developed by Stanford University. The microscope has been given to the research team by Stanford."

Biswas, however, added that the malaria detection, monitoring and mitigation framework devised by the team has been patented.

Biswas said they have approached the government and if their feedback is positive, they are ready to offer the technology for mass use in rural health centres, where vector-borne diseases typically affect more people.

"There are places like Kakdwip in where we think such devices will be of great help to the people since this system will be effective in both archival of data and mapping the real-time spread of the disease in a particular locality," Nilanjana Dutta Roy, another creator, said.

Vector-borne diseases are reported between mid-July and November-end. and are caused by aedes agypti mosquito, which breeds in clear water. Anopheles mosquito, which causes malaria, can breed in both fresh and muddy water.

First Published: Fri, October 20 2017. 11:35 IST