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MSU to Develop Mobile App for Malaria Diagnosis

Peter Lillehoj

Researchers at the Michigan State University College of Engineering are getting closer to phoning home a rapid-response diagnostic test for malaria.

Peter Lillehoj, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is heading a team of researchers that will use a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop the technology to diagnose and monitor cerebral malaria using mobile phones.

The diagnosis and clinical care for patients with cerebral malaria is complicated. “It is difficult to predict which patients are at risk of deteriorating from the disease, and which are not,” said Terrie Taylor, an MSU University Distinguished Professor and internationally recognized expert on malaria.

To tackle this challenge, Lillehoj and his team are working to develop and test a field-ready mobile phone-based biosensor that can perform rapid measurements of malarial biomarkers from human serum and blood samples.

“It will incorporate a miniature detection circuit that plugs directly into a mobile phone, a disposable microfluidic chip and a user-friendly app,” Lillehjoj said.

The app will provide graphical operating instructions to assist the user in performing the test. It also will be capable of wireless data transmission for sending test results to centralized laboratories and public health agencies.

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Malaria is one of the world’s most deadly infectious diseases. Most of the world’s 600,000 malaria victims are children.

In addition to Taylor, others working on the project are Andrew Mason, professor of electrical and computer engineering; Karl Seydel, assistant professor of internal medicine; Mat Reeves, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics; Guoliang Xing, associate professor of computer science and engineering; and Don Mathanga, from the University of Malawi College of Medicine.

– Tom Oswald , Peter Lillehoj via MSU Today

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