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Evaluation of the detection of malaria parasite species and anti-malarial resistance in uncomplicated malaria patients using a point of care digital diagnostic 

Evaluation of the detection of malaria parasite species and anti-malarial resistance in uncomplicated malaria patients using a point of care digital diagnostic 

Project Lead(s)
Associate Professor
Project Background 

Malaria is one of the most important infectious diseases in Africa. It is a devastating parasitic disease, killing almost half-a-million people per year, causing over 200 million episodes of debilitating illness, trapping countries in poverty and consuming huge amounts of international aid budget. The majority of this burden occurs in sub-Saharan Africa, disproportionately affecting the poorest, most remote, most marginalized and inaccessible populations. Despite huge progress over the last 15 years thanks to substantial investments of the Global community, progress has recently stalled, with 10 African countries contributing to about 70% of the global malaria burden. Challenges to further progress against malaria include: a lack of real-time and reliable surveillance data on parasite prevalence and malaria incidence; the large reservoir of infected but asymptomatic individuals; emerging antimalarial resistance (especially the threat of resistance to artemisinin, the most potent antimalarial drugs); the emergence of parasites which can evade conventional rapid diagnostic tests due to deletions of PfHRP2 and PfHRP3 antigens; and detection of human glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (which is common in malaria endemic populations, but predisposes to haemolysis upon exposure to certain antimalarial drugs). Digital diagnostics provide a disruptive solution to these problems, with rapid, cheap, connected, point-of-care tests accompanied by decision support, essentially bringing the laboratory to the patient, and providing vital information for disease surveillance and control to national and international public health bodies. The digital diagnostic platform (Lacewing) is a cartridge-based, isothermal, electrochemical DNA biosensor, coupled instantaneously by Bluetooth to a smart phone app, which provides data analysis, decision support, time and location stamping and up-load to a secure, cloud-based surveillance platform. 

Objectives/Research Areas 

The study aims to assemble a Digital Diagnostics for Africa Network with appropriate expertise to plan and implement a development strategy for innovative digital diagnostics designed specifically to address urgent health problems in Africa. 

Study Objectives: 

  1. Establish a network partnership to plan, enable, and evaluate the development of the Lacewing platform for malaria diagnosis, surveillance and control. 
  2. Describe a generalizable framework for Africa-led development and evaluation of digital molecular diagnostic platforms.  
  3. Identify efficient capacity building activities which are needed to enable innovation, development and evaluation for locally prioritized digital diagnostics for other infectious and non-infectious diseases in Africa. 
Ongoing Activities  

preparing documents for STC and IRB approval

External Collaborator(s) 
Dr Aubrey Cunnington, Impereal College, UK
Prof Halidou Tinto, Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la. Sante, BF
Prof Gordon Awandare, WACCBIP, UG
Dr Samuel Duodu, WACCBIP, UG