Over the years, IDRI has developed expertise in diagnosing the hard to detect – from leprosy, which was determined based on hard-to-recognize clinical symptoms, to leishmaniasis, which previously utilized painful procedures including aspirating liver or spleen tissue.
Malaria also has a somewhat complicated process for detection. It relies on reviewing clinical symptoms and looking for malaria parasites in the blood under a microscope, which is not simple or easy to do. And, it doesn’t provide information related to whether or not transmission of infection is ongoing or is eliminated.
Recently, I was invited to by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institut Pasteur to attend a malaria serology workshop in Paris. Following the same pattern as many other diseases, there is current desire within the malaria field to generate simple tests that can be used to detect infected individuals and objectively quantify the extent of disease burden within a particular region.
Given IDRI’s experience in successfully developing technologies using to diagnose other infectious diseases, we were asked to give our opinion and share our experiences at the workshop. Hopefully, our expertise can offer some insight into how to better tackle diagnostics for malaria, which still remains one of the world’s most devastating infectious diseases.
As control efforts push malaria towards elimination, we need to strategize on the tools that allow us to objectively measure the progress.