Dutch hematologist Jan van den Boogaart was awarded the European Inventor Award by the European Patent Office in Italy on Thursday for his new malaria test. The new test can diagnose malaria much faster and reliably than current methods, reports.

Van den Boogaart worked with Austrian biochemist Oliver Hayden to develop the first automated blood test to diagnose the disease. The test includes an algorithm that can diagnose malaria at a rate of 120 blood tests per hour and an accuracy of 97 percent. The test won the researchers the award in the industry category.

"With more than 600 thousand deaths a year, malaria is one of the deadliest diseases in the world", the European Patent Office said. "Only 10 percent of all infections are detected quickly." According to the jury, which selected the malaria test for the award from a total of 450 inventions, the test can make a big difference - especially in Africa, where 86 percent of all infections occur. 

Instead of trying to find the malaria parasite itself in the blood, this new test looks for the effects the infection has on the blood. "If 30 parameters in the blood vary simultaneously, including the shape and density of red blood cells and the level of hemoglobin, the diagnosis is as good as clear", Hayden said, according to 

The test is done with a so-called cell counter in a lab. Ultimately a device must be created that can also be used in Africa. "The first step is to continue clinical research and then start a business model", the Dutch researcher said. "It may take some time before we can apply this."

Van Boogaart conducted the research for Siemens, who will develop the algorithm further. "The company will ensure that the technology also becomes available on the market."

By Janene Pieters on June 16, 2017 

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