US-based Chembio Diagnostics has received a $678,000 grant from Seattle’s Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in a bid to accelerate the feasibility testing and development of the world’s first oral fluid / saliva POC diagnostic test for malaria.

This diagnostic test will help identify people infected with any species of malaria.

The grant will be used to deploy Chembio’s Dual Path Platform (DPP) technology with an aim to eliminate malaria.

To attain this goal, diagnostics must be able to identify asymptomatic individuals with low parasite densities that facilitate transmission of the disease, and allow detection using oral fluid / saliva samples rather than blood samples, required by currently available rapid malaria tests.

Chembio Chief Science and Technology officer Javan Esfandiari said: "We are honoured that Chembio was selected for this important endeavor. Under a prior feasibility grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, our DPP technology demonstrated the ability to detect malaria in individuals with low parasite densities using whole blood.

"These results, combined with our success using oral fluid to develop the DPP HIV 1/2 Assay, provides optimism that we can apply the patented DPP technology toward the detection of malaria using oral fluid / saliva. Our DPP HIV 1/2 Assay is FDA-approved and CLIA-waived."

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"Malaria continues to exact an enormous toll on human health and to impose a heavy social and economic burden."

As revealed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 100 countries and five of six WHO regions are affected by malaria.

Chembio CEO John Sperzel said: "Malaria continues to exact an enormous toll on human health and to impose a heavy social and economic burden.

"POC diagnostic tests to detect malaria, orders of which have increased from 46 million in 2008 to 314 million in 2015, are an increasingly important tool in the diagnosis and treatment of malaria."

Last year, nearly 214 million new cases of malaria and 438,000 deaths were reported across the world.

Image: Anopheles stephensi mosquito that spreads malaria. Photo: courtesy of Jim Gathany/Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Image Library.