In vivo microscopy of hemozoin: towards a needle free diagnostic for malaria
Burnett, Jennifer L.
Carns, Jennifer L.
Clinical diagnosis of malaria suffers from poor specificity leading to overtreatment with antimalarial medications. Alternatives, like blood smear microscopy or antigen-based tests, require a blood sample. We investigate in vivo microscopy as a needle-free malaria diagnostic. Two optical signatures, birefringence and absorbance, of the endogenous malaria by-product hemozoin were evaluated as in vivo optical biomarkers. Hemozoin birefringence was difficult to detect in highly scattering tissue; however, hemozoin absorbance was observed in increasingly complex biological environments and detectable over a clinically-relevant range of parasitemia in vivo in a P. yoelii-infected mouse model of malaria.