Plasmodium peptides in blood samples can rapidly detect asymptomatic submicroscopic malaria infections

Technology Overview

Dr. Serge Barcy

Dr. Serge Barcy

Asymptomatic patients infected with plasmodium, the parasite responsible for malaria, play an important role in the complex process of disease transmission. In order to achieve malaria eradication in endemic regions, it will be necessary to eliminate the parasite reservoir in the population, and this, in turn, requires systematic identification of asymptomatic submicroscopic infections and subsequent treatment. There is a general agreement that malaria eradication will likely require screening of all individuals in high-risk regions, regardless of symptoms. Currently available field-deployable malaria rapid diagnostic tests are adequate for clinical case management, but their performance does not allow reliable detection of asymptomatic infections. Current methods for detecting submicroscopic infections in asymptomatic patients include PCR and, more recently, Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP). However, higher screening costs and the need for basic laboratory infrastructure make these tests impractical for widespread screening.

Dr. Barcy’s lab has recently discovered a panel of peptides from several proteins encoded by plasmodium. These newly identified peptides are detectable in plasma samples from asymptomatic patients and are enriched in the extracellular vesicle fraction of the plasma. The team has also characterized the unique proteomic composition of these extracellular vesicles. These discoveries will allow the development of a rapid diagnostic test to identify asymptomatic submicroscopic malaria infections based on peptide detection in blood samples. The assay based on a lateral flow format would consist of two stages on a nitrocellulose membrane support: (1) specific capture and retention of extracellular vesicles; and (2) detection of the plasmodium peptide(s). This product would meet all requirements for a rapid and inexpensive diagnostic test, making it ideal for widespread screening. Dr. Barcy is interested in collaborating with a diagnostic company to move this discovery into manufacture and validation.

Stage of Development

  • Pre-clinical ex vivo

Partnering Opportunities

  • Collaborative research opportunity
  • Sponsored research agreement
  • Consultation agreement
  • Clinical trial
  • Tissue sample access

Learn More

To learn more about partnering with Seattle Children’s Research Institute on this or other projects, please contact:

Dr. Elizabeth Aylward, Director
Office of Science-Industry Partnerships
Seattle Children's Research Institute
818 Stewart St, Suite 603, M/S 818-S 
Seattle, WA 98101