Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from Kristina Grifantini

Testing for Malaria On the Go

A small, rugged device is reliable even in harsh conditions.

  • January 27, 2009

Scientists at the University of Washington (UW) have created a simple, disposable test for malaria that could prove particularly valuable in countries that lack reliable health care.

Credit: Dean Stevens

What separates this test from others like it is that the reacting proteins used can withstand warm temperatures for long periods. Usually reagents must be refrigerated in order to work, which presents a huge barrier to developing tests for places that lack steady electricity. Paul Yager, a professor of bioengineering at UW, and his colleagues dried antibodies with sugar in a way that allowed them to survive for over two months in warm temperatures.

Tiny channels inside the credit-card-size device direct a patient’s blood sample to testing sites where antibodies bind to malarial proteins, creating colored spots that a portable, automated reader (dubbed the DxBox) interprets.

With funding from the Gates Foundation, the team plans to collaborate with other groups, including Micronics, Nanogen, and PATH, to create more cards that can test for other diseases, including the flu and the measles. Other groups are trying to develop cheap and compact diagnostic tests for everything from cancer to heart attacks. But this seems like an impressive step toward a small, rugged test that could remain reliable and accurate even in harsh conditions.

Meet the Experts in AI, Robotics and the Economy at EmTech Next.

Learn more and register
More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.