Diagnostic Technologies

Diagnostics for glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency

Advancing new diagnostics to detect a common hereditary enzyme deficiency that complicates treatment for malaria

G6PD deficiency and P. vivax malaria

Malaria is a serious and even deadly disease spread by mosquitoes. As many as 2.85 billion people are estimated to be at risk of Plasmodium vivax malaria, a form common in Asia, Latin America, and East Africa. P. vivax is the most difficult form of malaria to eliminate because it causes recurring illness, which perpetuates the cycle of infection. All malaria parasites in the body must be killed to stop this cycle. This is known as radical cure.

Photo: PATH / Heng Chivoan

Currently, radical cure for P. vivax malaria can only be achieved with primaquine, an 8-aminoquinoline-based drug. But this class of drug can cause potentially lethal side effects in people with a common deficiency of an enzyme known as glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD). Therefore, it is critical for all patients to be tested for G6PD deficiency before they are treated with primaquine.

Providing safe treatment, accelerating elimination

Existing diagnostics for G6PD deficiency are not sufficient to support scaling up of treatment of P. vivax. A point-of-care diagnostic tool for G6PD deficiency is needed to support appropriate treatment of patients with P. vivax malaria and accelerate elimination of the disease.

PATH and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) are collaborating to accelerate the development of tests for G6PD deficiency. These tests will help support implementation of treatment using primaquine and also tafenoquine, an investigational 8-aminoquinoline-based drug that is currently under development by GSK and Medicines for Malaria Venture.



View our G6PD publications on NCBI

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Gonzalo Domingo, Malaria Portfolio Leader

This project is supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department for International Development.