New 20 cent device to help detect malaria

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017,17:29 IST By anju A A A

Los Angeles | Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have developed a 20 cent cardboard centrifuge that can help spot malarial parasites in the blood.

The low-cost tool can make a big difference in detecting malaria in the poorest parts of the world.

Researchers, including Manu Prakash from Stanford University in the US, built a mathematical model of how a centrifuge worked.

A centrifuge is a medical tool used to separate liquids such as blood being used.

Researchers were inspired by toys such as a yoyo and whirlygig that is made using a spherical object suspended on threads which are then pulled to make it spin.

The team created a computer simulation to capture design variables such as disc size, string elasticity and pulling force, ‘BBC News’ reported.

They borrowed equations from the physics of supercoiling DNA strands, and eventually created a prototype that spun at up to 125,000 revolutions per minute.

Researchers then used the device to spin blood in a capillary coated with orange dye for 15 minutes.

This separated malarial parasites from red blood cells, enabling them to be spotted under a microscope.