How do you make treating malaria easier? By making the methods of detection a whole lot easier. One of the reasons why it is such a hard disease to treat is because it is even harder to detect. Now, researchers are using magnets to detect parasite poop in the blood of infected patients.
The team from Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research (SMART) detects a parasite waste product.
Using magnets to detect parasite waste. Brilliant!
When hemoglobin breaks down, it releases iron, which can be toxic, and also a weakly paramagneti crystallite.
Those crystals interfere with the normal magnetic spins of hydrogen atoms. When exposed to a powerful magnetic field, hydrogen atoms align their spins in the same direction. When a second, smaller field perturbs the atoms, they should all change their spins in synchrony — but if another magnetic particle, such as hemozoin, is present, this synchrony is disrupted through a process called relaxation. The more magnetic particles are present, the more quickly the synchrony is disrupted.
Hopefully this will help drive detection up. Next up: find a damn cure! [EurekaAlert]
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