One of the most effective advancements in malaria testing has been the rapid diagnostic test. Easy to use and inexpensive it cut the wait time for diagnostics drastically and has made testing and treatment easier for frontline health workers around the world particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where the prevalence of malaria is the highest. In countries like Zambia, for example, malaria treatments are up and the mortality rate for children under the age of five has decreased due in large part to rapid diagnostic tests.
Now a new rapid diagnostic test may potentially be even more effective by not requiring a blood sample, but rather using a laser pulse to detect malaria infection. According to the New York Times the new rapid diagnostic test created by a team of researchers at Rice University led by physicist Dmitri O. Lapotko has the potential to diagnose one person every 20 seconds for a mere 50 cents. As it stands now a rapid diagnostic test can diagnose one person every fifteen minute and costs $1.
The potential to save lives from malaria deaths, especially children under the age of five and expectant mothers, could be markedly improved with this new laser malaria diagnostic test. Thus far testing mice produced no false positives. Clinical trials with people begin in two weeks. This new test can become another game changer in the fight to reduce malaria deaths.