Project Lead(s): Eva Aluvaala
Malaria caused by P. falciparum is one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases in the tropics.
An estimated 3.3 billion people were at risk of malaria in 2010, with populations living in Sub-Saharan Africa having the highest risk of acquiring the disease.
The ability to quantify P. falciparum in the blood pre- and post-treatment is important, as the clinician and researcher are then able to determine the efficacy of the antimalarial as well as individual patient response to treatment.
Currently, the only means through which clinicians and researchers can measure P. falciparum (and thus monitor prognosis) is by use of microscopy.
However, this method is limited, as the sensitivity of the test varies with the relative skill of the technician. Furthermore, the test requires laboratory infrastructure, which is not always available in remote settings of developing countries.
This project aimed to measure the levels of Plasmodium lactate dehydrogenase (PLDH) in the saliva of malaria patients and relate this to response to treatment, as a way of monitoring disease prognosis.
PLDH is produced by the circulating parasites and thus the concentration is a reflection of the amount of parasite burden. By measuring this, it may be possible to indirectly estimate parasite burden.
Matched saliva and blood samples from patients with malaria pre- and post-treatment were collected.
The PLDH ELISA analysis using saliva samples pre- and post-treatment was completed.
A statistical analysis showed no correlation between the enzyme levels of PLDH in saliva and parasitemia, as determined by microscopy.
The team was able to detect and quantify LDH in saliva samples but got a number of false negatives.
There was no clear trend in the decrease of enzyme through course of treatment, as had been hypothesized.
However, treatment of saliva samples to mitigate effects of interferences resulted in improved detection of LDH in saliva; hence, false negatives can be reduced.
The team is currently working on further improving detection of LDH (malaria) in saliva. They may require additional funding in the future.