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    Morehouse seeks patent on malaria diagnosis kit

    Morehouse School of Medicine is seeking to patent a new way to diagnose and manage malaria.

    According to a patent application made public today, the technology detects biomarkers -- a small molecule, protein or nucleic acid -- that can be detected and measured in body fluids to predict the severity and mortality of malaria.

    "Malaria transmission and mortality rates remain unchanged in endemic countries lacking adequate health care and malaria control despite the use of preventive measures and treatments against malaria," the patent application notes. "A major obstacle to effective malaria control is the lack of affordable and accurate malaria diagnostics and treatment, which has led to misuse and abuse of anti-malarial drugs and the development of drug resistant parasites."

    According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, 3.3 billion people live in areas at risk of malaria transmission in 106 countries and territories. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2010 malaria caused 216 million clinical episodes, and 655,000 deaths. An estimated 91 percent of deaths in 2010 were in the African region, followed by the South-East Asia region (6 percent), and the Eastern Mediterranean region (3 percent). About 86 percent of deaths globally were in children.

    Many pharmaceutical companies and researchers are working on malaria treatments and tests. Dozens of other malaria-related patents have recently been filed, including the University of Texas and University of California.

    The inventors of Morehouse's new technique are Jonathan K. Stiles, James W. Lillard, Henry B. Armatei, and Nano Otoo Wilson.