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New test fast-tracks diagnosis for malaria
A new invention can cheaply and accurately diagnose malaria infection in just a few minutes using only a droplet of blood, researchers have reported in the journal Nature Medicine. Paris - A new invention can cheaply and accurately diagnose malaria infection in just a few minutes using only a droplet of blood, researchers have reported in the journal Nature Medicine. The tool could replace the laborious, error-prone method by which a lab technician looks for malaria parasites in blood through a microscope, they said. The touted replacement is an "Inexpensive" desk-top mini-lab that, according to its inventors, can detect fewer than 10 malaria parasites per microlitre of blood, using a sample of less than 10 microlitres - equivalent to a small drop from a finger prick. While malaria is both preventable and treatable, it killed an estimated 627,000 people in 2012, mainly children in Africa, according to the World Health Organization. The device unveiled in Nature Medicine uses magnetic resonance relaxometry, a cousin of magnetic resonance imaging, the technology that powers today's advanced medical scanners. The desktop kit uses a magnet about a quarter of the size of powerful, expensive MRI scanners, said scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who undertook the venture with colleagues from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, or SMART. "This system can be built at a very low cost, relative to the million-dollar MRI machines used in a hospital," said Weng Kung Peng, a research scientist at SMART.

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