A research agenda for malaria eradication: diagnoses and diagnostics

PLoS Med. 2011 Jan 25;8(1):e1000396. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000396.


Many of malaria's signs and symptoms are indistinguishable from those of other febrile diseases. Detection of the presence of Plasmodium parasites is essential, therefore, to guide case management. Improved diagnostic tools are required to enable targeted treatment of infected individuals. In addition, field-ready diagnostic tools for mass screening and surveillance that can detect asymptomatic infections of very low parasite densities are needed to monitor transmission reduction and ensure elimination. Antibody-based tests for infection and novel methods based on biomarkers need further development and validation, as do methods for the detection and treatment of Plasmodium vivax. Current rapid diagnostic tests targeting P. vivax are generally less effective than those targeting Plasmodium falciparum. Moreover, because current drugs for radical cure may cause serious side effects in patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, more information is needed on the distribution of G6PD-deficiency variants as well as tests to identify at-risk individuals. Finally, in an environment of very low or absent malaria transmission, sustaining interest in elimination and maintaining resources will become increasingly important. Thus, research is required into the context in which malaria diagnostic tests are used, into diagnostics for other febrile diseases, and into the integration of these tests into health systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / blood
  • Antigens, Protozoan / blood
  • Antimalarials / adverse effects
  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use
  • Case Management
  • Child
  • Contraindications
  • DNA, Protozoan / blood
  • Endemic Diseases
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Hemeproteins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Liver / parasitology
  • Malaria / blood
  • Malaria / diagnosis
  • Malaria / parasitology
  • Malaria / prevention & control*
  • Malaria / transmission
  • Mass Screening
  • Microscopy / methods
  • Parasitemia / diagnosis*
  • Parasitemia / parasitology
  • Parasitology / methods
  • Plasmodium / growth & development
  • Plasmodium / immunology
  • Plasmodium / isolation & purification
  • Population Surveillance
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic / standards
  • Research*
  • Risk
  • Species Specificity


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Antimalarials
  • DNA, Protozoan
  • Hemeproteins
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • hemozoin