Für den Inhalt der Angaben zeichnet die Projektleitung verantwortlich.
Dieses von der Gebert Rüf Stiftung geförderte Projekt wird von folgenden weiteren Projektpartnern mitgetragen: Macromolecular Chemistry, Adolphe Merkle Institute, University of Fribourg; Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel; Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, Geneva; Centro de Pesquisa em Medecina Tropical de Rondônia, Porto Velho, Brazil
Project no: GRS-086/17
Amount of funding: CHF 350'000
Duration: 07.2018 - 05.2020
Area of activity:
Pilotprojekte, 1998 - 2018
PhD Jonas Pollard
Adolphe Merkle Institute
Chemin des Verdiers 4
1700 Fribourg (Schweiz)
- jonas.pollard@unifr. ch
Malaria is one of the deadliest parasitic diseases worldwide. Improved diagnostics are needed to help eradicate it, more specifically by detecting submicroscopic levels of infection during mass screenings in order to identify hidden parasitic reservoirs present in asymptomatic carriers.
The business aim of this project is to develop a highly sensitive, inexpensive, portable, and robust diagnostic tool for malaria parasite detection in human blood. This will be accomplished thanks to a patented method of detecting the malaria biomarker - a molecule found only in infected subjects - by using it as a catalyst for chemical amplification. This method allows us to detect submicroscopic malarial infections, enabling successful malaria eradication campaigns.
Further innovations are required to enhance the diagnostic procedure and ensure market entry. To succeed, three milestones must be reached: (a) a preparatory step to easily isolate the parasite from the patient’s blood; (b) optimization of the chemical amplification to maximize the diagnostic sensitivity and reduce reaction time, (c) inclusion of these elements into the diagnostic protocol. Finally, we will validate the diagnostic tool with patient samples in clinical studies in regions where malaria is endemic. These critical innovations are part of the business case needed to guarantee customer acceptance and generate wider interest.
What is special about the project?
The proposed method is radically different from current diagnostics. It relies on catalytic amplification of the pan-malarial biomarker, yielding an optical readout by the formation of turbidity. It combines high sensitivity while relying on low-cost chemicals, making it suitable to be used for screening large groups and to detect asymptomatic carriers of the parasite with submicroscopic infection. The implementation of this diagnostic would considerably fasten eradication of malaria worldwide.
During the course of the Gebert Rüf project a novel malaria diagnostic protocol has been developed including the following elements:
- Paper-based isolation of hemozoin from the blood
- Miniaturized assay with dried reagents
- Hand-held device to read the turbidity formation
The optimization of the chemistry assay brought its time to results down to 400 s (1 hour previously) while conserving a limit of detection of 10 parasites L-1. The amount of blood sample needed for the test was reduced 5 times. The overall protocol can now be carried out within 20 minutes by a technician with modest training and does not require heavy instrumentation. With this new protocol, the team could successfully diagnose malaria infections caused by P. Vivax during a series of field test in Porto Velho, Brazil.
The project is continuing through an Innosuisse grant to further improve the performance of the assay, produce multiple diagnostic kits and validate them in several malaria-endemic sites as a first step for market entry.
L'éradication de la malaria pourrait venir de Fribourg
, 20 minutes, 3.6.2018From science to start-ups
, News room SCNF, 30.5.2018Uni de Fribourg: nouvelle méthode pour détecter la malaria
, La Liberté, 11.04.2019Neue Diagnosemethode für Malaria
, Blick, 11.04.2019Forscher stellen neue Diagnosemethode für Malaria vor
, Aargauer Zeitung, 11.04.2019Uni de Fribourg: nouvelle méthode pour détecter la malaria
, swissinfo, 11.04.2019Forscher stellen neue Diagnosemethode für Malaria vor
, Tiroler Tageszeitung, 11.04.2019
Persons involved in the project
Adolphe Merkle Institute (AMI), University of FribourgDr. Jonas Pollard
, project leader Omar Rifaie Graham
, project collaboratorSamuel Raccio
, project collaborator)Prof. Nico Bruns
, project partner
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, BaselProf. Hans-Peter Beck
, Professor of Molecular Parasitology and Epidemiology, project partner
Centro de Pesquisa em Medecina Tropical de Rondônia, BrazilProf. Dhelio Pereira
, Professor of Medecine at Universidade Federal de Rondonia and Clinical director, project partner
Last update to this project presentation 10.02.2021