London: A team of researchers has designed and successfully tested, for the first time, a small skin patch that detected malarial proteins in live mice.
It could someday be adapted for use in humans to diagnose other diseases too.
Simon R. Corrie and colleagues said that while blood is rich with molecular clues that tell a story about a person's health, withdrawing it is often painful.
The researchers optimised their device so it could capture two biomarkers for the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, which kills more than one million people every year.
To test it, they injected malaria proteins into the bloodstream of live mice and applied the patch to their skin.
The patch successfully captured the proteins in the skin tissue.
"Such devices could be used in the future to diagnose malaria and other infectious diseases in a less painful way," Corrie added.
Scientists have been trying to develop diagnostic patches that are covered on one side with thousands of microscopic, hollow needles that can sample fluid in the skin.
But so far, these devices have only been able to test for one compound at a time.
The study appeared in the ACS' journal Analytical Chemistry.