Malaria Theranostics using Hemozoin-Generated Vapor Nanobubbles

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Malaria remains a widespread and deadly infectious human disease, with increasing diagnostic and therapeutic challenges due to the drug resistance and aggressiveness of malaria infection. Early detection and innovative approaches for parasite destruction are needed. The high optical absorbance and nano-size of hemozoin crystals have been exploited to detect and mechanically destroy the malaria parasite in a single theranostic procedure. Transient vapor nanobubbles are generated around hemozoin crystals in malaria parasites in infected erythrocytes in response to a single short laser pulse. Optical scattering signals of the nanobubble report the presence of the malaria parasite. The mechanical impact of the same nanobubble physically destroys the parasite in nanoseconds in a drug-free manner. Laser-induced nanobubble treatment of human blood in vitro results in destruction of up to 95% of parasites after a single procedure, and delivers an 8-fold better parasiticidal efficacy compared to standard chloroquine drug treatment. The mechanism of destruction is highly selective for malaria infected red cells and does not harm neighboring, uninfected erythrocytes. Thus, laser pulse-induced vapor nanobubble generation around hemozoin supports both rapid and highly specific detection and destruction of malaria parasites in one theranostic procedure.

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Lukianova-Hleb, Ekaterina Y. and Lapotko, Dmitri O.. "Malaria Theranostics using Hemozoin-Generated Vapor Nanobubbles." Theranostics, 4, no. 7 (2014) Ivyspring: 761-769.

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