London: Scientists have developed a simple and affordable origami-style paper device that can accurately and quickly detect diseases such as malaria in the remote parts of the developing world. A study describes for the first time how folded wax paper, prepared with a printer and a hot plate, has helped detect malaria with 98 per cent sensitivity in infected participants from two primary schools in Uganda.
Malaria is one of the world’s leading causes of illness and death, affecting more than 219 million people in 90 countries around the globe, said researchers from the University of Glasgow in the UK and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. However, current tests, which rely on a process known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), can only be carried out under laboratory conditions, making them unsuited for use in remote locations.
The team developed a new approach to diagnostics. It uses paper to prepare patient samples for a different type of detection process known as loop-mediated isothermal amplification, or LAMP, which is more portable and better-suited for use in the field. The approach correctly diagnosed malaria in 98 per cent of the infected samples tested, markedly more sensitive than both the microscopy and lateral flow tests, researchers said.