M'luru researchers develop FISH test to diagnose malaria

M'luru researchers develop FISH test to diagnose malaria

FISH (Fluorescence in Situ Hybridization) test for diagnosing malaria has been developed by the researchers from US and Mangaluru, using an LED light source, suitable for malaria-endemic countries. 

Dr Jyotsna Shah and her team of researchers at ID-FISH Technology Inc, Palo Alto, California, in collaboration with researchers at IGeneX Inc, California, Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Nairobi, Nova Meditech and Research Centre, Mangaluru, Kasturba Medical College Hospital, Mangaluru, National Institute of Health, Maryland, has developed the FISH method for detecting malaria infection in blood.

In Mangaluru, Dr Kakkilaya, Aravinda Rao, biochemist at Nova Diagnostic and Research Centre, contributed by designing and performing experiments and analysing data, while Dr Shaila T Bhat and Dr Ruchi Sinha of KMC Hospital provided materials and analysis tools.

Physician Dr Srinivas Kakkilaya said, the limited sensitivity and specificity in field conditions of blood smears spurred research into better methods of diagnosis. Although many formats have been developed, none proved better than the microscopic examination.

This novel method uses fluorescent dye labelled RNA-specific probes that bind to the malaria parasites and the brightly coloured parasites are detected under a fluorescence microscope. The test takes about an hour and is 98.2 per cent sensitive compared to 89.9 per cent and 81.1 per cent of the Giemsa stained smear and rapid tests respectively.

Researchers also successfully evaluated an LED light source with a blue-green filter set that can be attached to a standard light microscope with 100X objective to read FISH processed smears. Dr Kakkilaya said this simple and cost-effective method will be a boon to India. In 2013 alone, 198 million were affected by malaria causing 5.84 lakh deaths worldwide.

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