• Spitting science

    Spitting science

    In a world first, South African researchers are introducing a diagnostic saliva test for malaria.

    With the help of a US$258.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Saliva-based Malaria Asymptomatic and Asexual Rapid Test (SMAART) is ready to be launched by South African research team ERADA Technology Alliance, and could transform current malaria detection methods to curb the deadly disease.

    In partnership with the Dinglasan Malaria Laboratory based at the University of Florida, US, South African researchers have pioneered the SMAART malaria detection tool, which is easy to use and can be utilised by healthcare professionals, teachers and parents – eliminating the need for invasive blood tests, and detects an essential protein that the parasite needs for survival, preventing further infection undetected during blood screening.

    ‘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%,’ according to Benji Pretorius, ERADA’s founder and MD.

    15 January 2019
    Image: Alamy