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Accurate diagnosis of malaria infections continues to be challenging and elusive, especially in the detection of submicroscopic infections. Developing new malaria diagnostic tools that are sensitive enough to detect low-level infections, user friendly, cost effective and capable of performing large scale diagnosis, remains critical. We have designed novel self-quenching photo-induced electron transfer (PET) fluorogenic primers for the detection of P. ovale by real-time PCR. In our study, a total of 173 clinical samples, consisting of different malaria species, were utilized to test this novel PET-PCR primer. The sensitivity and specificity were calculated using nested-PCR as the reference test. The novel primer set demonstrated a sensitivity of 97.5% and a specificity of 99.2% (95% CI 85.2-99.8% and 95.2-99.9% respectively). Furthermore, the limit of detection for P. ovale was found to be 1 parasite/μl. The PET-PCR assay is a new molecular diagnostic tool with comparable performance to other commonly used PCR methods. It is relatively easy to perform, and amiable to large scale malaria surveillance studies and malaria control and elimination programs. Further field validation of this novel primer will be helpful to ascertain the utility for large scale malaria screening programs.


David Akerele, Dragan Ljolje, Eldin Talundzic, Venkatachalam Udhayakumar, Naomi W Lucchi. Molecular diagnosis of Plasmodium ovale by photo-induced electron transfer fluorogenic primers: PET-PCR. PloS one. 2017;12(6):e0179178

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PMID: 28640824

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