A world first diagnostic saliva test for malaria developed by a group of US-based researchers will soon be added to the list of inventions that will aid in meeting the meeting the WHO’s goal of reducing malaria by 90% by 2030.
The saliva-based domestic too called Asymptomatic and Asexual Rapid Test (SMAART) will be marketed by ERADA.
Malaria ranks high on the list of disease leading to mortality as it kills an estimated 435,000 people annually with the victims mostly children under the age of five, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The saliva-based malaria diagnostic tool is easy to use as it can be implemented by community health care professionals, parents and even teachers.
It is expected to be more helpful in regions where blood tests are frowned upon as a result of cultural taboos associated with blood.
The SMAART detection tool works by detecting a novel biomarker for Plasmodium falciparum parasites. In some areas of the world, the parasites have acquired a mutation and are therefore no longer detected by current blood-based tests. But ERADA’s saliva test detects an essential protein the parasite needs for survival, which should avoid the problem of influence from the mutation and keep the test effective long-term.
Speaking on the SMAART detection tool, Dr Benji Pretorius, the founder and managing director of ERADA said,
“As someone who has suffered from malaria, I know first-hand that if the parasite had been detected early, I could have been treated and cured before the symptoms of the disease made me unwell,”
“As a practising clinician myself and following my personal experience of this debilitating disease, I was spurred on to work with my colleague Dr Richard Schmidt in our small community, Musina, in South Africa, together with a global team of scientists. Our vision is to bring to market ERADA’s SMAART diagnostic tool as quickly as possible in the belief that it will go on to save literally millions of lives in the future.”
“The introduction of SMAART is going to play a major part in achieving effective diagnostic testing and surveillance; as well as prevention and treatment of this disease, and therefore will be a major catalyst in meeting the WHO’s 2030 target to reduce malaria incidence and mortality by 90%,” Dr Pretorius concludes