By Cameron Chai
Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) have created an accurate and simple device for malarial study.
Malaria is a parasitic infection, which spreads through mosquitoes. The infection is caused by Plasmodium falciparum, one of the common malarial parasites, that infects the red blood cells (RBCs) in humans.
Usually, through the RBCs oxygen is delivered to the tissues of the human body. The RBCs squash into smaller capillaries to transport oxygen. This ability is lost in the infected RBCs that may lead to disruption of blood flow, resulting in vital organ failure and finally death.
Hongshen Ma and his group developed a "lab on a chip" device to know the alterations occurring in RBCs due to the parasite.
The microfluidic device measures 50x25 cm. The RBCs are deformed by this device through a sequence of funnel-shaped constrictions. The deformity of the cell is calculated by measuring the pressure needed to drive the RBCs through the constrictions.
Hongshen Ma, who serves as an Assistant Professor at the Departments of mechanical engineering and urologic sciences in UBC and as Vancouver Prostate Center’s Senior Research Scientist, said that this measurement helps scientists to know the disease condition and treatment response of the patient. The efficiency of various drugs for treatment of drug resistant malaria can be evaluated by using this device.
The outcome demonstrates that the RBCs stiffening at various stages of the infection can be measured accurately.
The observations have been published in the journal Lab on a Chip.