European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Half the World's population is at risk from malaria. Rapid and accurate diagnosis is essential to fight the disease as are new vaccines, drugs and methods to control its spread. "
Another key partner in the GBP 4.4 million (Euro 5.2 million) project is QuantuMDx Group, a UK-based handheld diagnostics and DNA sequencing specialist. The prototype – a pioneering smart-phone device - aims to provide the same quality of results as a laboratory at a fraction of the time and cost, making it ideal for use in the field. It will allow doctors to prescribe personalised combinations of anti-malarial drugs to patients.
The project, supported with GBP 3.4 million (Euro 4 million) in funding from the EU's seventh research framework programme, was set up in response to increasing signs that the malaria parasite is mutating to resist the most powerful classes of anti-malaria drug combination therapies that include artemisinins as a component. The UK researchers worked with teams at the University of Tuebingen in Germany and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
According to the World Health Organisation, in 2010, an estimated 219 million malaria cases occurred globally and the disease killed about 660 000 people, mostly children under five years of age.
Since 2002 the EU has invested more than GBP 178 million (Euro 209 million) in 87 research projects into the disease and how to control it. In addition, through its partnership with sub-Saharan Africa (the EDCTP initiative), the EU is supporting 32 clinical trials into new treatments with some GBP 43 million (Euro 50 million).
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