- Written by Queen Munguti for KenyaKidz
Alere Inc, a global leader in rapid diagnostics has launched a highly sensitive malaria diagnostic test that will help healthcare workers detect infection in people with mild (or no) symptoms helping curb the spread of malaria within families and communities.
The new test is ten times as sensitive in the detection of histidine rich protein II (HRP-II) antigen of Plasmodium falciparum, which will enable better identification of individuals with very low parasitemia, many of whom may be without evident symptoms of malaria infection.
Dubbed Alere™ Malaria Ag P.f, this new test is a major technological breakthrough in high-sensitivity rapid testing versus the currently available malaria tests and will aid the implementation of surveillance and mass screen-and-treat programs that are critical for accelerating malaria elimination.
“Breaking the cycle of malaria transmission requires identifying all infected individuals, but until now, point-of-care diagnostic tests have not been sensitive enough to reliably detect asymptomatic infections,” said Avi Pelossof, Alere’s Global President of Infectious Disease.
“The Alere Malaria Ag P.f represents a game-changing tool to empower healthcare workers to identify asymptomatic individuals in even the most remote settings, contributing to a reduced malaria reservoir in communities – key strategies in eliminating this devastating disease.”
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of mosquitoes and according to the World Health Organization, nearly one half of the world's population is at risk of malaria.
In 2015, 91 countries and areas had ongoing malaria transmission, leading to 212 million cases and 429,000 deaths.
With new malaria diagnostic test, it could improve has the ability to detect and define the transmissible reservoir of malaria in a community and also inform evidence-based strategies to eliminate malaria.
A malaria test conducted with the Alere™ Malaria Ag P.f can produce immediate sensitive results even in rural and remote settings representing a significant advance in the ability to do this for Plasmodium falciparum malaria and as such is a valuable tool for malaria elimination.
The Alere Malaria Ag P.f also has the potential to support elimination programs that actively seek and treat infections to reduce the malaria reservoir in the community and thereby drive down transmission, and will help to significantly increase the detection of P.f infection in screening programs. The test also has potential for use in the detection of malaria during pregnancy and in surveillance programs.
“We are excited by the potential for this product to address one of the barriers identified on the path to malaria eradication – the non-acute disease reservoir that complicates efforts to stop transmission,” said Dr. Bruno Moonen, Deputy Director of the Malaria program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Until now, we have not had a tool to tackle this challenge in low-transmission settings. Added to existing RDTs, prevention methods and treatments that reduce disease burden in high- and medium-transmission settings, this test will add a new tool to the fight against malaria.”
“Elimination of malaria rests on our ability to identify asymptomatic malaria infections,” noted Catharina Boehme, CEO of FIND. “This test is a valuable addition to the malaria elimination toolkit. Looking forward, we are excited to see the results of our forthcoming demonstration studies, as these will provide valuable insights into how this test can have the biggest positive impact.”