Quick Test for Malaria

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Q-Bioanalytic GmbH, a Bremerhaven based company receives a 670.000€ grant from the European Commission to extend it’s portfolio in the In vitro diagnostic field for the development of new rapid test for malaria. The project is called DIAGMAL. This test will be used directly on fresh blood samples to confirm the presence of Plasmodium parasites, the infectious agent that causes malaria. There are currently no rapid molecular tests for the Plasmodium parasite on the market.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease with around 3.3 billion people, half of the world’s population, at risk(1). In 2010, there were thought to be around 219 million cases of malaria and an estimated 660,000 deaths(1). Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites which are transmitted to humans through bites from infected Anopheles mosquitoes. There are five types of Plasmodium parasite species that cause malaria in humans, the most common being Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. Different therapeutic strategies are required to treat each of these parasites.

Malaria can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated quickly. As early as 24 hours after the onset of symptoms, malaria caused by the Plasmodium falciparum species can progress to severe illness followed by death(1).This new rapid diagnostic test will be able to identify whether Plasmodium falciparum or P. vivax is present in the blood, allowing the correct treatment regime to be prescribed immediately, reducing transmission and improving patient outcomes. The test is being designed to screen populations in areas specifically where malaria is being targeted for eradication.

The test uses the technique Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to amplify the DNA from the Plasmodium parasite to such an extent that its presence can be detected on an easy-to-use immunoassay strip. This PCR-based test is inexpensive, rapid, and up to 100 times more sensitive than the widely used immunodiagnostic assays. As the test can be used directly on fresh blood samples, no processing of blood is required, allowing results to be delivered in as little as 60 minutes.

The project will be led by Dr. Henk Schallig of the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam.  Q-Bioanalytic GmbH, Forsite Diagnostics in the UK and the Global Innovation Network Ltd in Finland are collaborating partners in the project which started on 1 September 2013.

“Malaria currently kills hundreds of thousands of patients annually and there is an urgent need for prompt diagnosis and treatment. We are delighted to receive a grant from the European Commission, which allows us to help develop a potentially significant diagnostic test for malaria.“ 

“The World Health Organization recommends that all cases of suspected malaria should be confirmed using parasite-based diagnostic testing. This PCR-based test can be used directly on blood samples, allowing for results to be rapidly available to clinicians. The test is also able to differentiate between various species of the Plasmodium parasite, which is essential for tailoring the correct treatment to each individual to improve patient outcomes.” – Dr. Boris Oberheitmann

Q-Bioanalytic is a Company specialized in the DNA based detection of pathogens in food and water it runs a service laboratory and a kit production sites in Bremerhaven and Bremen, Germany. The product portfolio comprised already pathogens mainly abundant in the tropical regions like Vibrio cholerae. Tropical regions are often a source for food supply to Europe.


(1)The World Health Organization, Fact sheet N°94, www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/en Last accessed 13 September 2013, last updated March 2013



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