Medicine and Health Science Fair Project
Testing for Malaria Using a Smartphone and Microfluidic ELISA


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Project Information
Title: Testing for Malaria Using a Smartphone and Microfluidic ELISA
Subject: Medicine and Health
Subcategory: Medical Instruments / Malaria Testing
Grade level: High School - Grades 10-12
Academic Level: Advanced
Project Type: Building / Engineering
Cost: Medium
Awards: Global Finalist
Affiliation: Google Science Fair
Year: 2016
Materials: Smartphone, acrylic sheets, CO2 laser, Phosphate buffered saline, primary antibody: mouse monoclonal antiplasmodium aldolase, antigen: recombinant aldolase, blocking buffer, TMB Substrate, stop solution.
Techniques: ELISA
Concepts:
Description: A strong need exists for a portable and more sensitive method to detect malaria infection, especially in rural areas. A system that could be used without AC electricity and with low cost would be ideal. The objective of this project is to find out if it is possible to create a portable AC electricity free microfluidic based ELISA system to detect plasmodium aldolase (malaria biomarker) which could be read on a standard smartphone camera. The goal is to create a system that would have similar sensitivity as a standard 96 well ELISA at a cost of $10 or less per sample.
Link: www.googlesciencefair.com...
Background

Diagnosis of Malaria


Wikimedia Commons / Cavitri
Direct ELISA diagram

The mainstay of malaria diagnosis has been the microscopic examination of blood, utilizing blood films. Although blood is the sample most frequently used to make a diagnosis, both saliva and urine have been investigated as alternative, less invasive specimens. More recently, modern techniques utilizing antigen tests or polymerase chain reaction have been discovered, though these are not widely implemented in malaria endemic regions. Areas that cannot afford laboratory diagnostic tests often use only a history of subjective fever as the indication to treat for malaria.

The most economic, preferred, and reliable diagnosis of malaria is microscopic examination of blood films because each of the four major parasite species has distinguishing characteristics. Two sorts of blood film are traditionally used. Thin films are similar to usual blood films and allow species identification because the parasite's appearance is best preserved in this preparation. Thick films allow the microscopist to screen a larger volume of blood and are about eleven times more sensitive than the thin film, so picking up low levels of infection is easier on the thick film, but the appearance of the parasite is much more distorted and therefore distinguishing between the different species can be much more difficult. With the pros and cons of both thick and thin smears taken into consideration, it is imperative to utilize both smears while attempting to make a definitive diagnosis.

Malaria antigen detection tests are a group of commercially available rapid diagnostic tests of the rapid antigen test type that allow quick diagnosis of malaria by people who are not otherwise skilled in traditional laboratory techniques for diagnosing malaria or in situations where such equipment is not available. There are currently over 20 such tests commercially available (WHO product testing 2008). The first malaria antigen suitable as target for such a test was a soluble glycolytic enzyme Glutamate dehydrogenase. None of the rapid tests are currently as sensitive as a thick blood film, nor as cheap. A major drawback in the use of all current dipstick methods is that the result is essentially qualitative. In many endemic areas of tropical Africa, however, the quantitative assessment of parasitaemia is important, as a large percentage of the population will test positive in any qualitative assay.

ELISA

The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is a commonly used analytical biochemistry assay, first described by Weiland in 1978. The assay uses a solid-phase enzyme immunoassay (EIA) to detect the presence of a ligand (commonly a protein) in a liquid sample using antibodies directed against the protein to be measured. The ELISA has been used as a diagnostic tool in medicine and plant pathology, and as a quality control check in various industries.

Performing an ELISA involves at least one antibody with specificity for a particular antigen. The sample with an unknown amount of antigen is immobilized on a solid support (usually a polystyrene microtiter plate) either non-specifically (via adsorption to the surface) or specifically (via capture by another antibody specific to the same antigen, in a "sandwich" ELISA). After the antigen is immobilized, the detection antibody is added, forming a complex with the antigen. The detection antibody can be covalently linked to an enzyme, or can itself be detected by a secondary antibody that is linked to an enzyme through bioconjugation. Between each step, the plate is typically washed with a mild detergent solution to remove any proteins or antibodies that are non-specifically bound. After the final wash step, the plate is developed by adding an enzymatic substrate to produce a visible signal, which indicates the quantity of antigen in the sample.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License)

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