Developing a saliva based rapid diagnostic test for detection of asymptomatic carriers of the malaria parasite
The overall goal of this project is to support the discovery of novel gametocyte specific antigens in human saliva that, in turn, will inform the design and development of a rapid gametocyte antigen detection test.
The researchers aim to test the hypothesis that if mature gametocytes potentially aggregate in gum capillary beds, then there is the possibility to sample gametocyte-derived proteins in the saliva of children infected with subclinical parasite densities in malaria-endemic countries.
A large proportion of ongoing malaria parasite transmission is attributed to low-density subclinical infections not readily detected by available rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) or microscopy. Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte carriage is subclinical, but gametocytemic individuals comprise the parasite reservoir that leads to infection of mosquitoes and local transmission. Effective detection and quantification of these carriers can help advance malaria elimination strategies. However, no point-of-need (PON) RDTs for gametocyte detection exist, much less one that can perform noninvasive sampling of saliva outside a clinical setting.