Snap, Crackle, Pop: You have Malaria

 Malaria, historically one of mankind's perpetual scourges, continues to devastate populations of humans worldwide. While effective treatments are available, the condition must be diagnosed first--a challenge in resource poor areas.

The diagnosis of malaria is based upon the  visual identification of parasites in a blood sample. Rapid antigen detection tests and PCR can also be used on blood samples.

A novel method, devoid of the need for blood samples, has just been described in a paper published in PNAS. The New York Times reported on the finding. 

The test is based upon detecting the acoustic signature of hemozoin molecules which are degradation products generated by the malaria parasites feasting on the red blood cell's hemoglobin. Using a laser device, hemozoin molecules can be vaporized and the acoustic signature of that process detected allowing malaria to be diagnosed.

Such a test, if technically feasible and scalable, has the potential to transform the way malaria is diagnosed enhancing accuracy and speed while diminishing the need for laboratory and phlebotomy equipment--potentially a giant leap forward.