The Analyst

Diagnosing malaria infected cells at the single cell level using focal plane array Fourier transform infrared imaging spectroscopy.

PMID 25055796


New methods are needed to rapidly identify malaria parasites in blood smears. The coupling of a Focal Plane Array (FPA) infrared microscope system to a synchrotron light source at IRENI enables rapid molecular imaging at high spatial resolution. The technique, in combination with hyper-spectral processing, enables imaging and diagnosis of early stage malaria parasites at the single cell level in a blood smear. The method relies on the detection of distinct lipid signatures associated with the different stages of the malaria parasite and utilises resonant Mie extended multiplicative scatter correction to pre-process the spectra followed by full bandwidth image deconvolution to resolve the single cells. This work demonstrates the potential of focal plane technology to diagnose single cells in a blood smear. Brighter laboratory based infrared sources, optical refinements and higher sensitive detectors will soon see the emergence of focal plane array imaging in the clinical environment.