In early August, Aqsens Health Oy started the analysis of the saliva samples received from the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in Ghana. This was the first research step of a collaboration with Research Fellow Dr. Linda Amoah from NMIMR to see how Aqsens Health’s E-TRF method can detect malaria from saliva samples. After a few weeks of intense laboratory work, the collaboration’s initial results seem promising.
In the next decades, malaria may become more widespread due to the world’s warming climate, which is why efficient and accurate diagnostic tests that can be performed in remote locations are more important than ever. During the last 30 years, there has been little development in malaria diagnostic methods. There are no well-established non-invasive malaria tests, and the diagnosis always requires a blood sample, which is risky and more difficult to collect in resource-poor locations that might lack access to laboratory conditions. Aqsens Health and Dr. Linda Amoah’s research seeks to find a new screening solution for malaria that would be both non-invasive and fully mobile.
Dr. Linda Amoah collected ninety saliva samples in Ghana and sent them to Aqsens Health’s laboratory in Finland in the beginning of July. The samples included 24 healthy controls and 66 malaria positive saliva samples from a similar patient group with a clinically confirmed diagnosis. During Dr. Amoah’s visit, she became acquainted with the E-TRF method and saw how it can be applied to detect malaria. Aqsens Health’s research team together with Dr. Amoah has been working intensely during the past weeks to analyze the malaria saliva samples. Now the team is sharing their first results.
Aqsens Health’s laboratory team processed the saliva samples according to a simple pretreatment protocol, and bacteriophages were biopanned towards malaria positive samples to obtain specific biological modulators. After the first round of developing the method and performing assays, the initial results seem promising. The changes in color metrics (color wavelength and hue) between the healthy controls and malaria samples were visible both with the AQ MOBI platform prototype and the absorbance reader. The changes were seen also with E-TRF. Based on these encouraging initial results, the team can further optimize the method and perform the final assays and analyses.
In the future, the screening of malaria from saliva samples would be possible with either the portable AQ MOBI platform, or with a standard TRF reader. Saliva samples make the screening more pleasant for the patient, and with the solutions Aqsens provides, screening will be fast, cost-effective and scalable for healthcare systems both in clinical and rural environments.
These initial tests are the first steps towards a more comprehensive study of phages and E-TRF’s capabilities in detecting malaria. The research team is excited to provide more comprehensive results later this month.