Malaria Breath Tests

In recent news it has been made apparent that we can now test for the presence of malaria using breath tests. This will make diagnosis more streamlined and more accessible for those in rural and impoverished areas who may be unable to access adequate healthcare.

Malaria is a life threatening disease caused by Plasmodium parasites transmitted to humans through the Anopheles mosquito. There have been more than 400,000 deaths associated with malaria in the past year. In those who are not immune, symptoms usually appear around 5-10 days after the initial bite. The usual symptoms that follow are fevers, chills and headaches, however due to the nature of these symptoms it can be incredibly difficult to accurately diagnose.

The prototype invented was used to detect 6 different odours to detect malaria. This non-invasive and relatively cheap method compared to analysing blood samples is currently being tested and has recently achieved a success rate of 83% when detecting malaria in children. Despite this seemingly positive figure, the prototype has not yet been mass-produced as additional testing is needed due to the small nature of the group under study. This method also does not require any technical expertise; staff do not need to be trained to use it. Therefore, it can be used in rural areas by villagers to test one another for the presence of the malarial parasite. The rapid testing devices operate by detecting the presence of the protein HRP2 in the breath of its users. Unfortunately, some malarial strains e.g. Plasmodium falciparum have mutated and are now beginning to stop producing this particular protein. As well as the original six odours the scientists were testing for they found high concentrations of terpenes. Terpenes are molecules that are usually associated with the odour from pine trees and conifers and are natural attractants for mosquitos.

“Prof James Logan from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: “The rapid detection of asymptomatic malaria is a challenge for malaria control and will be essential as we move towards achieving the goal of malaria elimination. A new diagnostic tool, based on the detection of volatiles associated with malaria infection is exciting.””







Invasive Lobular Carcinoma

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma is the second most common type of breast cancer and accounts for 8% to 14% of breast cancers, after Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Carcinoma describes cancer occuring in the epithelial or lining layer of cells, almost all cases of breast cancer are carcinomas. The carcinoma can either be in the milk ducts or in the lobules and in some cases can be in both areas. ILC is characterised by small rounded cells that be difficult to find on mammograms as they do not readily form masses.

In this case, cancer has spread to surrounding tissues after being generated in the milk-producing lobules of the breast. It is invasive as it invades other parts of the breast. Over time, ILC can spread to the axillary lymph nodes, most commonly those situated under the armpits.

It is most common in women between the ages of 45 to 55, however, women outside of this range can develop ILC in some cases.

Symptoms include:

  • an area of thickening or swelling
  • a change in the nipple, for example if it turns inwards (inverted)
  • a change in the skin, such as dimpling or thickening



Mammograms, which are x-rays of the breasts, are usually used to diagnose breast cancer. Additionally, you could have a biopsy or an MRI scan, this is dependent on your physician.

In some cases a lumpectomy may be carried out, which is where the tumour/mass is removed without deconstruction of the breast. In some cases, a mastectomy is advised, especially if the tumours are relatively large. Many women also have their lymph nodes removed as a precaution or if the cancer has spread.

After surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, biological therapy and hormone therapy may be used to treat cancer and can be a preventative measure. For some women, a hormone imbalance can cause uncontrolled growth of cancer cells so hormone therapy using oestrogen is used to reduce risk of recurrence.

Some breast cancers contain HER2/neu which is a growth-promoting protein that can cause the cancer to spread more quickly. Drugs that target the HER2 protein include Herceptin, a type of monoclonal antibody (antibody produced from a single clone of B cells), Tykerb, Perjeta and Kadcyla.

Testing of the sample can be done using immunohistochemistry (using antibodies that stick to the HER2 protein causing cells affected to change colour) and fluorescent in situ hybridisation (fluorescent DNA pieces stick to the HER2 gene, cells affected can be counted under a microscope).

References and Additional Information:

Regeneration of the Pancreas

US researchers have discovered that the pancreas can be stimulated to regenerate if a fasting diet is taken up. The diet mimics periods of feast and famine. It was tested on mice and highlighted that beta cells were regenerated through the fasting. The beta cells detect the blood glucose level and stimulate the release of insulin which is used to control blood sugar along with glycogen and glucagon.

However this diet did lead to low blood sugar and a decrease in a hormone called IGF-1. Doctors have discouraged people from attempting to start a crash diet as it is important to see a physician first to ensure that the body is able to cope with such a varied diet.

Those who took part lost up to 4kg but put this back on in the feasting period of the diet.

This type of treatment reduces the need for drugs and can be seen to have fewer side effects than the traditional medication used in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.