Malaria: exploring blood diseases and not in vain

Malaria is a life-threatening blood disease caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium. They are transmitted to humans via infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Those parasites multiply in the host’s liver before infecting and destroying red blood cells (RBCs). 

In 2015, 214 million people worldwide were infected by malaria and 3.4 billion people were living in a zone at risk. In tropical and sub-tropical countries, malaria is a major cause of death, killing over 1 million people each year; 90% of these deaths are among children.

Observing a drop of the patient’s blood under the microscope can identify malaria parasites. The usual procedure consists of staining the specimen (e.g.: Giemsa stain) in order to give the parasites a distinctive aspect. This technique remains a laboratory common usage for malaria detection.

However, there are some drawbacks: the staining and interpretation processes are labour intensive, time consuming, and require considerable expertise and trained workers.

On this blog post, we present what could be achieved thanks to the 3D Cell Explorer in the field of blood disease diagnosis, in this case Malaria. 

With an untreated sample (not fixed and not stained) we were able to identify, in a few seconds, RBCs infected with malaria and discern them from normal ones.

normal blood slide

human red blood cells affected by malaria


On top of that Nanolive’s technology can distinguish only based on the refractive index (RI) each phase of malaria parasites infection.