Malaria may be all but dead in modernized societies, but it still accounted for about 438,000 deaths last year alone as it continues to ravage parts of the world like sub-Saharan Africa. According to CNN, a new device could help rapidly diagnose malaria and aid in the fight to eradicate it for good.
John Lewandowski is a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He created a mechanical device called the RAM (Rapid Assessment of Malaria), which can identify malaria through a blood drop sample in a matter of seconds — five seconds, to be exact.
“Early detection is very important, typically in the first five to seven days before symptoms arise, so that treatment can begin,” said Lewandowski. “In India, the field study of 250 patients showed a 93% to 97% accuracy.”
According to a study by researchers at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, efforts to fight malaria in Africa have helped to cut the infection rate in half since 2000, but the disease still remains as one of the world’s biggest killers.
One of the primary goals for Lewandowski, who’s also the founder and CEO of Boston-based Disease Diagnostic Group, was to create a relatively low-cost device that could detect the disease quickly. It appears he’s been quite successful so far. The RAM only costs about $100 thanks to the low-cost material it’s made from. The user takes a quick prick to draw a couple drops of blood and within seconds the device analyzes and informs them if the malaria parasite is present in their system.
Lewandowski is the first to admit that what he created is far from a completely unique piece of innovation but rather an improvement on what was already known.
“Our technology is just speeding up that same process and bringing down the cost,” Lewandowski said. “For us, social impact is our mission. We want them to be used in the right way by the right people who need them the most.”