A comparison of two DNA probes, one specific for Plasmodium falciparum and one with wider reactivity, in the diagnosis of malaria.
Holmberg M., Vaidya AB., Shenton FC., Snow RW., Greenwood BM., Wigzell H., Pettersson U.
The sensitivity and specificity of 2 probes for the detection of malarial infection was studied. 399 blood samples from Gambian children were tested in a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) hybridization assay, and the results compared with the microscopical findings from thick blood films. 8 additional pure Plasmodium malariae and 14 pure P. vivax samples were also assayed. One probe, containing a 21 base pair tandem repeat and highly specific for P. falciparum, detected this species in all except 2 of 74 samples with a parasitaemia of 250 per microliter or more; the overall sensitivity of the probe was 76%. The other probe, a 6 kilobase pair organelle DNA, is conserved in all Plasmodium species so far tested. Its sensitivity for P. falciparum was lower than the 21 base pair repeat, but it detected P. vivax and P. malariae at low levels of parasitaemia, and thus could be useful in field studies.