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Detection and quantification of early-stage malaria parasites in laboratory infected erythrocytes by attenuated total reflectance infrared spectroscopy and multivariate analysis.


New diagnostic modalities for malaria must have high sensitivity and be affordable to the developing world. We report on a method to rapidly detect and quantify different stages of malaria parasites, including ring and gametocyte forms, using attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FT-IR) and partial least-squares regression (PLS). The absolute detection limit was found to be 0.00001% parasitemia (<1 parasite/μL of blood; p < 0.008) for cultured early ring stage parasites in a suspension of normal erythrocytes. Future development of universal and robust calibration models can significantly improve malaria diagnoses, leading to earlier detection and treatment of this devastating disease.