Malaria, the major global health threat primarily affecting rural areas in developing countries, requires accurate and non-invasive diagnostic methods.
In this study, we introduce a novel molecular assay that can be adapted for low-resource settings. We successfully detected malaria parasites in a single drop of saliva using this method. The assay utilizes pump-free microfluidics extraction and a DNA sensor substrate, which is transformed into a single-stranded DNA circle by a specific enzyme produced by the malaria-causing Plasmodium parasite.
By amplifying this DNA circle, we generated long tandem repeat products that could be visually detected through a colorimetric reaction. The test proved to be quantitative, specific to Plasmodium parasites, and enabled the identification of Plasmodium infection in all 35 saliva samples collected in Gabon from confirmed malaria infected patients.
The results were easily discernible to the naked eye and could be quantified using a standard paper scanner. This breakthrough has the potential to revolutionize malaria diagnosis by providing a simple, reliable, and accessible method for detecting the disease.