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UK's Forsite Diagnostics Funded $728K to Develop Malaria MDx

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The European Commission has awarded €540,000 ($728,438) to UK-based Forsite Diagnostics to help develop a rapid molecular diagnostic test for malaria, the company said on Monday.

The test is being developed as part of a three-year project called Diagmal to develop a test using fresh blood samples to confirm the presence of Plasmodium parasites, which causes malaria. Currently no molecular tests exist on the market exist for Plasmodium, Forsite, one of the collaborators on Diagmal, said.

The award is part of the EC's Framework Programme 7.

The test is being developed to identify Plasmodium falciparum or Plasmodium vivaxis in blood, which would allow a clinician to prescribe an appropriate therapy immediately. It is being designed to screen populations in areas being specifically targeted to eradicate malaria, and will use PCR technology to amplify DNA from the Plasmodium parasite so that it can be detected on immunoassay strips.

Forsite said the test will be inexpensive, rapid, and up to 100 times more sensitive than commonly used immunodiagnostic assays.

Henk Schallig of the Royal Tropical Institute is heading Diagmal. In addition to Forsite, Germany-based Q-Bioanalytic and Finland-headquartered Global Innovation Network are collaborators on the project, which started on Sept. 1.

Forsite is a subsidiary of the Abingdon Health Group.

A five-year, €2.8 million EU-funded project aimed at investigating multidrug resistance in malaria ended in June, and follow-on funding of about €3 million was awarded to participants in that project to refine and further develop an assay, as PCR Insider reported.

Forsite was part of the original consortium in the earlier project. The award announced this week is part of the follow-on €3 million funding, Schallig and Forsite confirmed.