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1.6 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 3. MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES, Public and environmental health

Publication Details,blood%20cell%20cultures%20were%20used.

doi: 10.1039/d3an00971h


Early and accurate detection of infection by pathogenic microorganisms, such as Plasmodium, the causative agent of malaria, is critical for clinical diagnosis and ultimately determines the patient’s outcome. We have combined a polystyrene-based microfluidic device with an immunoassay which utilises Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) to detect malaria. The method can be easily translated to a point-of-care testing format and shows excellent sensitivity and specificity, when compared to the gold standard for laboratorial detection of Plasmodium infections. The device can be fabricated in less than 30 min by direct patterning on shrinkable polystyrene sheets of adaptable three-dimensional microfluidic chips. To validate the microfluidic system, samples of P. falciparum-infected red blood cell cultures were used. The SERS-based immunoassay enabled the detection of 0.0012 ± 0.0001 % parasitaemia in a P. falciparum-infected red blood cell culture supernatant, an ~7-fold higher sensitivity than that attained by most rapid diagnostic tests. Our approach successfully overcomes the main challenges of the current Plasmodium detection methods, including increased reproducibility, sensitivity, and specificity. Furthermore, our system can be easily adapted for detection of other pathogens and has excellent properties for early diagnosis of infectious diseases, a decisive step towards lowering their high burden on healthcare systems worldwide.



This research was funded by Portuguese funds from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P. (FCT-MCTES), in the scope of the projects LA/P/0037/2020, UIDP/50025/2020 and UIDB/50025/2020 of the Associate Laboratory Institute of Nanostructures, Nanomodelling and Nanofabrication (i3N) and UIDP/04378/2020 and UIDB/04378/2020 of the Research Unit on Applied Molecular Biosciences (UCIBIO); LA/P/0140/2020 of the Associate Laboratory Institute for Health and Bioeconomy (i4HB); UIDB/50006/2020 and UIDP/50006/2020 of the Associate Laboratory for Green Chemistry (LAQV); grant PTDC/NAN-MAT/30589/2017; and MIT Portugal PhD Program fellowship SFRH/BD/132057/2017 (to M. J. O.). Funding also from the European Community H2020 program under grant agreement no. 716510 (ERC-2016-STG TREND), no. 640598 (ERC-StG-2014, NEWFUN), and no. 685758 (1D-Neon). M. P. acknowledges “la Caixa” Foundation for Grant HR21-848.

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