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Australian researchers discover breath-testing for malaria disease

SYDNEY, April 21 — Australian researchers have developed a breath test for the malaria disease, which could help reduce thousands of deaths.

Doctors usually use microscopes to examine blood, however researchers at Brisbane's QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have found that people with malaria have chemicals in their breath.

They were able to see the chemicals four days earlier than a traditional microscope test and with much higher sensitivity.

Scientists from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, the Australian National University and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) expressed optimism that the discovery could eventually lead to a breathalyser, which could be used in areas where the disease is widespread.

QIMR Berghofer head of infectious diseases Professor James McCarthy said this would be a major step in wiping out the disease in carriers.

"Quicker diagnosis does save lives because you're able to instantly see whether somebody's got malaria and not wait for the microscope and whatever else but that's a way off yet," he told the Brisbane Times on Tuesday.

"But we think it could be more useful for diagnosing people who've got very low levels of parasites in their blood because it appears to be more sensitive than the microscope."

In 2013, there were almost 200 million cases and over half a million deaths due to malaria, according to the World Health Organization. (PNA/Xinhua)


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