Discovered 101 years ago this month, the malarial parasite can't hide from these dedicated Reedies.
Unfortunately for humans, some species of this mosquito have also proven to be the perfect transmission device for malaria. The disease, once on the decline worldwide and all but wiped out in the United States, has slowly crept back, aided by misdiagnosis and overuse of once-potent antimalaria medicines.
On a quiet Portland street, noted for its Victorians and other turn-of-the-century homes, is a small, two-story structure, where a test to detect the malaria parasite transmitted by the "perfect syringe" has been developed, thanks to the efforts of three generations of Reed alumni.
Here Dr. Michael Makler '58 directs what he calls a "Fortune Cookie 500" company called Flow, Inc. Flow's mission is to develop rapid, practical, easy-to-use methods for diagnosis, therapeutic monitoring, and determination of prognosis of malaria. That's important, because traditional methods of malaria detection require a microscope and specialized training--both scarce resources in much of the world. One of Flow's malaria diagnostic tests, named OptiMAL, can be used by anyone and gives clear results in 10 minutes. The latter is particularly important since the falciparum strain can kill within hours. Proper identification of the strain results in proper treatment.