Can Saliva Be Used To Detect Malaria?

by Dr. Nithin Jayan on  May 7, 2011 at 2:48 PM Health Watch   - G J E 4
New study claims that anti-malarial antibodies could be detected in saliva. This could revolutionise the age old long battle against mosquitoes.
Can Saliva Be Used To Detect Malaria?
Can Saliva Be Used To Detect Malaria?

'Saliva represents a potential alternative to blood for the assessment of anti-malarial antibody levels', says authors.

Malaria, a mosquito-borne parasitic disease, remains as a global burden despite all the medical advances. Though preventable and treatable it kills some 881,000 people every year. Examination of blood sample is perhaps the most common way of detecting malarial parasite. The peripheral blood smear examination is often regarded as the "gold standard" for the diagnosis of malaria.

Measurement of antibodies reflects exposure to parasites. Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system in response to pathogens. Antibodies are routinely measured in sera or on dried blood spots.

Studies were performed in two countries: Tanzania and Gambia. These aimed at developing a non-invasive method would provide extra utility in sampling general populations. Saliva is already in use in the detection of viral infections. Blood and saliva samples from the same individuals were collected in unlinked surveys conducted in Tanzania and Gambia. A total of 253 samples were studies. Results were encouraging. Data demonstrate anti- malarial antibodies can be detected in saliva. Antibody levels in saliva correlate strongly with levels in plasma.

Researches the list the following advantages of using saliva as a tool:

• It does not involve the usage of sharps, it is easy to collect and store and could be used to access communities with blood taboos.

• It is also likely to be more ethically acceptable for repeat sampling of the same individual.

"This non-invasive relatively simple collection method will be potentially useful for general population surveys, and particularly in migratory populations or those with infrequent contact with health services or opposed to blood withdrawal", writes authors. The results were published in BioMed Central, an authentic scientific publisher.

Use of saliva for detecting malaria has tremendous potential in strengthening the global battle against the rampant disease.

'Further studies confirming and standardising the recovery of antibodies are required', adds the researchers.

Reference: BioMed Central

Source: Medindia

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