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News Picks : Laser used to test for malaria

By: Physics Today
07 January 2014
New York Times: A revolutionary test for malaria is being developed at Rice University. Instead of requiring a blood sample and a slew of diagnostic chemicals, the new technique uses a low-powered laser to noninvasively detect malaria parasites in a patient’s bloodstream. Those parasites invade the red blood cells and produce nanoparticles called hemozoin. When exposed to a picosecond laser pulse, the hemozoin absorbs the energy from the laser and forms tiny bubbles, which then pop. That pop can be detected acoustically “in the same way a destroyer detects a submarine,” according to Dmitri Lapotko, coauthor of the Rice University research group’s paper, which was published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In preclinical tests, the technique was able to detect a single malaria-infected cell among a million normal cells, with no false positives.


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Scitation: News Picks: Laser used to test for malaria