Detecting malaria with magnets
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A new test for malaria that uses magnetic fields to detect the parasite's waste in infected blood cells could provide an earlier and reliable diagnosis of the disease.
The technique will use magnetic resonance relaxometry (MRR), to detect hemozoin in the blood cells. When the parasite eats the host's hemoglobin, the hemoglobin breaks down releasing iron. The parasite will then convert the iron to hemozoin, which has a magnetic field that will interfere with the spins of hydrogen atoms.
When the hydrogen atoms are exposed to a powerful magnetic field, they will adjust their spins accordingly. Applying a second, smaller field should cause the atoms to change their spins all at the same time, but the presence of hemozion will interfere with that synchronicity. By measuring how quickly that synchrony is disrupted, it will be possible to determine the severity of the infection.