The Research and Development of Serologic Tests for Malaria

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  • Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D. C. 20012
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The immunodiagnosis of malaria is still at a formative stage in spite of the great progress which has been achieved in recent years. Of the many serologic tests which have been developed, complement fixation, agglutination and immunofluorescence tests have offered the best chances of success. Cross-reactions generally occur among the various species of plasmodia and less commonly with other infectious agents. Since the malarial antigens used so far are very complex mixtures, increased efforts toward purification of these mixtures through physical and chemical fractionation are needed.

In selecting the test of choice it is essential to have a precise understanding of the purpose for which serology is to be utilized. Different tests are recommended as an aid to diagnosis, to establish the prevalence of malaria in a given population, to aid in the evaluation of control measures, or to screen potential donors for blood transfusions. Procedures based on the use of isolated and biochemically characterized antigens hold the best hope for the desired degree of sensitivity, specificity, and reproducibility.