Gates Foundation gives Exeter malaria detector grant

Researchers in Devon developing a hand held device to diagnose malaria have been given £630,000 funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The team from Exeter University are in the process of trialling the "inexpensive" battery operated device.

It uses magnetic imaging to detect crystals produced when the malaria parasite is present in the body.

Malaria causes over one million deaths a year, according to the World Health Organisation.

Professor Dave Newman, who is leading the team at Exeter, said: "There is an urgent need for a new diagnostic technique for malaria, particularly in the light of global warming.

"It threatens to spread the disease into new parts of the world, including southern Europe.

"The early results from our device are very promising and hugely exciting.

"We expect to ultimately produce a sensitive non-invasive device that will be cost effective and easy to use, making it suitable for developing countries where the need is greatest."

The researchers have already completed the first phase of trials of the device in laboratory conditions, and now plan to carry out trials in Thailand and Kenya.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a philanthropic organisation set up by the Microsoft founder and his wife.

One of its aims is to help eradicate malaria.

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