New methods for malaria testing

A few weeks ago, Siemens Healthineers were named finalists for the European Pantent’s Office‘s 2017 Inventor Award. They had developed a new, automated method for detecting malaria, based on their Advia 2120i hematology system. Malaria is a life-threatening disease, responsible for more than 1 million annual deaths globally.

We were curious to see if there are also other new methods for malaria detection. Using Mergeflow, we looked for companies, technologies, and products.

How we set up our search

Besides showing you our results, today we would like to give you some more behind-the-scene information, and show you how we set up our search. First, we defined our goal: finding companies, technologies, and products related to malaria detection. We did not look for malaria vaccination or therapy findings here. So we ended up with the following search terms (combined by logical “OR”):

 

Publicly funded research projects

Publicly funded research projects often are good sources for finding new, innovative technologies, and the actors behind them (companies, inventors, etc.). So we started there. In particular, we looked at a US federal funding program, SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research):


The chart shows funding amounts and dates for individual funding projects (SBIR funds individual companies, not consortia as does the EU for instance). In order to see more details, we switched from “overview chart” to “details table”:

Each row in the table corresponds to one research project awarded to a company. Notice that companies may receive more than one SBIR project, e.g. Fyodor Biotechnologies in the table above. Here are some example projects:

  • ID FISH Technology developed a new malaria marker method for blood samples.
  • M2 Photonics Innovations developed a new holographic microscope system.
  • Fyodor Biotechnologies developed a noninvasive malaria test that uses urine instead of blood samples.

 

Finding more SMEs

After first looking at research projects, we then looked more generally at companies (SMEs) that work on malaria detection. Below is a screenshot of some company names identified by Mergeflow. The bigger the font, the more material Mergeflow found for a particular company.

We then looked at some of these companies in order to see what they are working on:

Aquila Diagnostic Systems

Aquila Diagnostic Systems is working on Accutas, a new solution for malaria testing. However, this so far appears to be work in progress.

Sight Diagnostics

Sight Diagnostics has developed the Parasight Platform:

Parasight uses computer vision and machine learning to detect malaria in blood samples.

xRapid

xRapid has developed an app that uses a smartphone connected to a microscope for detecting malaria in blood:

Fio Corporation

The Fio Corporation has developed the Deki Reader:

In combination with Fionet, a network solution that connects mobile medical devices, the Deki Reader provides step-by-step guidance for performing rapid diagnostic tests, including the detection of malaria.

Alere

Alere has developed point-of-care malaria detection devices, specifically for rural and remote areas:


The development of this tool was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

Technology Offerings

Finally, we looked at potentially relevant technology offerings. Mergeflow continuously scans about 400 technology licensing databases worldwide for new updates. Here are a few examples relevant to malaria detection:

Detecting malaria with magnets — a magnetic-resonance-based method developed by a team at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART).

Detecting malaria by measuring electricity — also from MIT, this method for early-stage malaria detection is based on electrical properties of infected cells.

Detecting malaria with sound — developed at Rice University, this method is non-invasive, i.e. it does not require blood samples.

Microfluidic platforms for malaria detection — developed at the University of California, Irvine, this method can be implemented as lab-on-a-chip