Low birth weight in Papua New Guinea is a killer. Help us research what is causing low birth weight in PNG so that we can stop it.
New technologies to diagnose malaria at high sensitivity and specificity are urgently needed in the developing world where the disease continues to pose a huge burden on society. Infrared and Raman spectroscopy-based diagnostic methods have a number of advantages compared with other diagnostic tests currently on the market. These include high sensitivity and specificity for detecting low levels of parasitemia along with ease of use and portability. Here, we review the application of vibrational spectroscopic techniques for monitoring and detecting malaria infection. We discuss the role of vibrational (infrared and Raman) spectroscopy in understanding the processes of parasite biology and its application to the study of interactions with antimalarial drugs. The distinct molecular phenotype that characterizes malaria infection and the high sensitivity enabling detection of low parasite densities provides a genuine opportunity for vibrational spectroscopy to become a front-line tool in the elimination of this deadly disease and provide molecular insights into the chemistry of this unique organism.