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Magnets diagnose malaria in minutes

Tabletop device detects metallic excrement of blood parasites

12:27pm, September 5, 2014
portable device with magnetic sensors for detecting malaria

MAGNETIC MALARIA  Magnetic sensors packed into a new portable device provide faster and more accurate diagnosis in a malaria mouse model than does current technology. 

Magnets might soon reveal brewing malaria infections long before symptoms appear. In mice, magnetic sensors take mere minutes to spot otherwise imperceptible levels of the parasitic blood infection, scientists report August 31 in Nature Medicine.

“With malaria, a few days can be the difference between life and death,” says coauthor Peter Preiser, a parasitologist at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. “If confirmed in humans, our technique could detect disease roughly two to four days earlier.”

Infecting an estimated 207 million people worldwide, malaria is currently diagnosed in one of two ways. Splashing a few blood droplets on a dipstick can yield a color-coded answer in 15 minutes. These rapid tests can ensure early treatment; however, they miss about one of six cases in patients with low levels of the parasite. In the second method, expert eyes

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