The online version of this article (https://doi.org/10.1186/s12936-017-2155-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are a great achievement in implementation of parasite based diagnosis as recommended by World Health Organization. A major drawback of RDTs is lack of positive controls to validate different batches/lots at the point of care. Dried Plasmodium falciparum-infected samples with the RDT target antigens have been suggested as possible positive control but their utility in resource limited settings is hampered by rapid loss of activity over time.
This study evaluated the effectiveness of chemical additives to improve long term storage stability of RDT target antigens (HRP2, pLDH and aldolase) in dried P. falciparum-infected samples using parasitized whole blood and culture samples. Samples were treated with ten selected chemical additives mainly sucrose, trehalose, LDH stabilizer and their combinations. After baseline activity was established, the samples were air dried in bio-safety cabinet and stored at room temperatures (~ 25 °C). Testing of the stabilized samples using SD Bioline, BinaxNOW, CareStart, and First Response was done at intervals for 53 weeks.
Stability of HRP2 at ambient temperature was reported at 21–24 weeks while that of PAN antigens (pLDH and aldolase) was 2–18 weeks of storage at all parasite densities. The ten chemical additives increased the percentage stability of HRP2 and PAN antigens. Sucrose alone and its combinations with Alsever’s solution or biostab significantly increased stability of HRP2 by 56% at 2000 p/µL (p < 0.001). Trehalose and its combinations with biostab, sucrose or glycerol significantly increased stability of HRP2 by 57% (p < 0.001). Unlike sucrose, the stability of the HRP2 was significantly retained by trehalose at lower concentrations (500, and 200 p/µL). Trehalose in combination biostab stabilizer increased the percentage stability of PAN antigens by 42, and 32% at 2000 and 500 p/µL respectively (p < 0.01). This was also the chemical combination with the shortest reconstitution time (~ < 20 min).
These findings confirm that stabilizing RDT target antigens in dried P. falciparum-infected samples using chemical additives provides field-stable positive controls for malaria RDTs.
Additional file 1. Percentage stability of Plasmodium HRP2, pLDH, and aldolase after 53 weeks of storage tested on three malaria RDTs after stabilization using chemical additives.
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- Stabilization of RDT target antigens present in dried Plasmodium falciparum-infected samples for validating malaria rapid diagnostic tests at the point of care
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