Developing new tests for malaria elimination: G6PD deficiency

One of the major challenges to the successful global elimination of malaria is the treatment of the Plasmodium vivax liver-stage (hypnozoite) reservoir.

Primaquine (an 8-aminoquinoline compound) is the only drug available that can successfully kill these hypnozoites. However it can induce potentially lethal haemolysis in patients that are deficient in the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD).

G6PD deficiency is the most common human enzyme deficiency in the world and is most prevalent in malaria endemic areas where primaquine treatment is needed.

In some areas, up to 20 per cent of the population can be affected. It is crucial that there be an understanding of the patients G6PD status prior to drug administration, but current testing methods are limited and not always available in resource limited malaria endemic regions.

This project focuses on addressing this issue by developing new G6PD deficiency diagnostics to inform safe use of antimalarial drugs.

We have recently developed a simple, high throughput and cost effective ELISA based assay to screen for G6PD deficiency in resource limited areas. Field evaluations of this test are to be undertaken in 2015.

Developing a test to identify heterozygote females in the field is also a priority of this project. These individuals express a mosaic pattern of deficient and non-deficient cells. Currently there are no tests available that can be used in the field to identify heterozygote females.

Health Issue

Contact Details

For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:

Associate Professor Jack Richards

Group Head, NHMRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Infectious Diseases Physician