The University of Glasgow has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to further help in the diagnosis of malaria. The $100,000 award would go towards developing a device which uses mobile-phone derived technology to detect and separate red blood cells infected with malaria parasites.
The researchers hope, if successful, devices based on the technology could be produced for the masses for rapid and accurate malaria diagnosis.
The study which starts this month, would exploit surface acoustic wave devices which are electronic components commonly found in TVs, mobile phones and other electronic display devices.
The team has been using these acoustic devices to develop new technologies for medical diagnostics for a number of years. It now proposes to use surface acoustic wave devices to exert selective forces on malaria infected red blood cells to separate them from uninfected red cells.
Different cells respond to surface acoustic waves in different ways, depending on their physical properties, including their elasticity and their shape. Since malaria parasites cause red cells to alter their elasticity and their shape, they should respond differently to surface acoustic waves at particular frequencies. The team hopes to produce a hand-held device that can identify infected cells quickly and cleanly.