A European collaboration among researchers at St. George’s University of London, the Karolinksa Institutet, Tubingen University, and nanotech firm QuantuMDx Group working to develop what they call a “smartphone-like” device to analyze the DNA of different malaria strains from just a finger-prick of blood and in just 15 minutes today announced that its prototype device will be ready for field testing this year, well ahead of schedule.

The group, dubbed the Nanomal Consortium, is working in response to the fear that artemisinin-based combination therapies against malaria will soon become ineffective. Supported by €5.2 million (around $6.77 million) through the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Program, the researchers hope the nanotech-based point-of-care diagnostic device they are developing will help enable the eventual personalized prescription of effective antimalarial drugs.

“Placing a full malaria screen with drug resistance status based on accurate DNA analysis in the palm of a health professional’s hand will allow instant prescribing of the most effective antimalaria medication for that patient,” QuantuMDx CEO Elaine Warburton said in a statement. “Nanomal’s rapid, low-cost DNA testing will further support the global health challenge to eradicate malaria.”

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