FRIDAY, 26 AUGUST 2011Malaria parasites invade red blood cells of the human body, and eat the haemoglobin inside. Iron in the haemoglobin is converted by the parasite into an inert crystalline pigment called hemozoin. Because the hemozoin crystals are packed into a food vacuole, relatively high concentrations of iron can accumulate. This is where the microwaves will be useful.
A microwave oven, with a finely tuned electromagnetic field frequency and extremely low power output, can be used to heat up hemozoin crystals, which swell and burst the vacuole to kill the parasite.
The idea proposed by Dr Jose Stout is to develop a method to safely kill parasites in the blood by exposing limbs of a patient to a modified oven. Because the malaria plasmodium spends some of its time in the brain and liver a patient would need treatment over several days, but the parasite always returns to the blood. The method could also be used for bags of donated blood, and gained interest from the Gates Foundation because of its potential to work in poor countries, at low cost and with modest power demands  .
Written by Robert Jones