Hemozoin-generated vapor nanobubbles for transdermal reagent- and needle-free detection of malaria

Ekaterina Y. Lukianova-Hleb, Kelly M. Campbell, Pamela E. Constantinou, Janet Braam, John S. Olson, Russell E. Ware, David J. Sullivan, Dmitri O. Lapotko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Successful diagnosis, screening, and elimination of malaria critically depend on rapid and sensitive detection of this dangerous infection, preferably transdermally and without sophisticated reagents or blood drawing. Such diagnostic methods are not currently available. Here we show that the high optical absorbance and nanosize of endogenous heme nanoparticles called "hemozoin," a unique component of all blood-stage malaria parasites, generates a transient vapor nanobubble around hemozoin in response to a short and safe near-infrared picosecond laser pulse. The acoustic signals of these malaria-specific nanobubbles provided transdermal noninvasive and rapid detection of a malaria infection as low as 0.00034% in animals without using any reagents or drawing blood. These on-demand transient events have no analogs among current malaria markers and probes, can detect and screen malaria in seconds, and can be realized as a compact, easy-to-use, inexpensive, and safe field technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-905
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 21 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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