Researchers at St George's, University of London have developed a new portable device that can detect whether a person is suffering from malaria and also the specific strain of the malaria parasite in less than 30 minutes.
The device, a result of the $6.7 million NanoMal project, is about the size of a smartphone and checks for signs of malaria by taking a blood sample from a finger prick. The device can also test the specific mutations of the malaria parasite, providing additional information regarding drug resistance.
The researchers said that the intention behind the development of the device was to provide access to lab-quality diagnosis and results in remote places of the planet at a fraction of the cost. Though the device itself will cost in region of hundreds of dollars, it will be provided for free in developing countries while the cost of a single cartridge will be $17.
"Recent research suggests there's a real danger that artemisinins could eventually become obsolete, in the same way as other anti-malarials. New drug treatments take many years to develop, so the quickest and cheapest alternative is to optimize the use of current drugs. The huge advances in tech are now giving us a tremendous opportunity to do that and to avoid people falling seriously ill", NanoMal project lead Sanjeev Krishna said.