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QuantuMDx, U of London Lead New Malaria Dx Consortium

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A new consortium has been launched in Europe with the goal of developing a handheld molecular diagnostic device to test for malaria.

The Nanomal project is led by researchers at St. George's, University College London and molecular diagnostics firm QuantuMDx and has been provided with funding of €5.2 million ($6.7 million) from the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme. Other participants in the consortium include the University of Tuebingen in Germany and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

The partners intend to develop a device that can take a finger prick of blood, extract DNA, and detect and sequence the specific mutations linked to drug resistance. It would provide a result in less than 20 minutes, while a patient waits, and would enable personalized treatment tailored to counter resistance.

The consortium members aim to develop a device that would cost around the price of a smartphone, but may be issued for free in developing countries, with single-test cartridges costing around €13 initially.

"Placing a full malaria screen with drug resistance status in the palm of a health professional’s hand will allow instant prescribing of the most effective anti-malaria medication for that patient, Elaine Warburton, CEO of Newcastle, UK-based QuantuMDx, said in a statement. "Nanomal’s rapid, low-cost test will further support the global health challenge to eradicate malaria."

The consortium intends to begin clinical trials of the device within three years.