Malaria detection device to be field tested a year ahead of schedule

A European Union-funded mHealth project to develop a mobile device using nanotechnology to rapidly detect malaria infection and drug resistance will be ready for field testing in 2013--a year ahead of schedule--according to a university announcement.

Launched in 2012, the Nanomal device is being developed in the United Kingdom by St. George's University of London and Newcastle-based handheld diagnostics and DNA sequencing specialist QuantuMDx Group, using nanotechnologies to rapidly analyze the malarial DNA from a finger prick of blood. The goal is to develop a portable device that allows healthcare workers to rapidly analyze a blood sample and provide a malaria diagnosis and comprehensive screening for drug susceptibility within 15 minutes, but with the same accuracy as a laboratory.

"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," said QuantuMDx's CEO Elaine Warburton in a statement. "Nanomal's rapid, low-cost test will further support the global health challenge to eradicate malaria."

Affordability is an important feature, given the need for such a diagnostic device in poorer countries that are combating Malaria, which kills about 800,000 people each year. A single-test cartridge will be around $13 (£10) initially. However, the goal is to reduce this cost to ensure affordability in resource-limited settings, according to the article.

In related news, an Android-based monitoring system in Pakistan is helping to control dengue outbreaks by tracking and tagging confirmed cases and the mosquito larvae that carry the disease. Pakistani government workers used 1,500 Android smartphones to tag each dengue case by time and location, allowing health officials to track and predict the path of the disease.

The monitoring system relies on actual testing of mosquito larvae and hospital reports to predict where dengue outbreaks are starting. If a specific neighborhood is suspected to be at the beginning of an outbreak, then government officials search those bodies of water where mosquitos and their larvae are likely causing the problem.

To learn more:
- read the announcement