Michigan State University researchers have identified a test that can determine which children with malaria are likely to develop cerebral malaria, a much more life-threatening form of the disease.
"Children who progress to cerebral malaria have a 20% mortality rate, or even higher if they don't get the right treatment early," Karl Seydel, MSU assistant professor of osteopathic medical specialties said.
Seydel and colleagues report that testing patients' blood for HRP2 - a protein produced by the malaria parasite - was an accurate predictor of how the disease progressed among children at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi.
The HRP2 test is costly and poorly suited to use in rural clinics. Seydel and colleagues are in the process of developing a less expensive, more portable version.
The research is published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.