Last year a group of researchers consisting of scientists from CSIRO (Canberra, Australia) and other medical institutions in Australia and America identified specific breath markers present in malaria-infected patients. In a recent press release from CSIRO, the team recently revealed they will be conducting validation trials in light of their discovery.
“Our initial research really opened our eyes to the potential for a new test, because the chemicals that we found in the breath of patients could be detected at the very early stages of infection,” commented CSIRO research group leader, Stephen Trowell.
Funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has now allowed the research team to field test the accuracy and efficacy of the breath markers in a series of validation trials in regions with high malaria incidence. Regions for the trials include Malawi, Bangladesh and Sabah province in Malaysia.
The present research trials will assemble leading experts from diverse medical and scientific disciplines, along with extensive knowledge of the challenges facing each geographical zone.
The trials will involve collecting breath samples from malaria infected patients. Patients will also be requested to provide current tests and treatments received from health clinics. This will then be compared with a ‘control’ cohort of individuals not infected with malaria.
The samples with then be statistically and chemically analyzed at facilities at Canberra or St. Louis.
Trowell further explained what the next phase of developments would involve: “If this phase of the research pans out, we intend to move onto developing a simple, painless and cheap breath test to help identify people who have malaria and don’t know it. This would enable better targeting of treatments to stop transmission of the disease.”