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DNA Diagnostics Company to Crowdfund Malaria Testing Device

Q-POC device

Q-POC device (QuantuMDx Group)

QuantuMDx, a biotechnology company in Newcastle, U.K. says it will start a crowdfunding campaign next month to finance development and field trials of a handheld device to test for malaria. The device is an application of its Q-POC point-of-care diagnostics system, which will be the subject of an Indiegogo campaign beginning 12 February.

The company, founded in 2008, develops systems that harness DNA sequencing to simplify medical diagnostics with devices that can perform the same functions as remote medical labs, but in locations where health care is delivered, at lower cost, in a fraction of the time, and without the need for highly trained specialized staff. It has two systems in development, Q-POC for point-of-care diagnostics and Q-SEQ for DNA sequencing.

The Q-POC device extracts DNA from specimen samples — e.g. blood, saliva, or urine — with microfluidics, which QuantuMDx says requires only five minutes to complete. The extracted DNA is then tested with a biosensor made of nanowires fused with analytes that detect the presence of target molecules by their electrical charge. The analytes can be genetic material, such as DNA or RNA, or other proteins.

The Q-POC converts the test reading from the biosensor into binary code that an ordinary computer chip can store and process, with the tests completed in 20 minutes or less. QuantuMDx says disposable cartridges are in development for the Q-POC to test for tuberculosis, cardiovascular, and sexually-transmitted diseases, as well as malaria. Cartridges are also being developed for genetic testing.

QuantuMDx CEO Elaine Warburton says the Indiegogo campaign aims to generate more than funds. “Not only are we looking for contributors to support this phenomenally worthy cause to help save many hundreds if not thousands of children’s lives” says Warburton in a company statement, “but we’re also offering everyone the chance to leave a lasting legacy in the fight against malaria by contributing their winning ideas to the look and feel of our device and to take part in re-naming it from the current research name of Q-POC.”

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Hat tip: MedCity News

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