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ADVANCE Discourse: Lab

Crowdfunding MDx

Published February 5, 2014 4:38 PM by Michael Jones

We’re all familiar with the popularity of crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter for both the largely successful and also the somewhat misguided attempts to gather funding for movies and music videos, but lately a much more serious group has turned to crowdfunding: clinical researchers. In an effort to gain additional funding for its handheld POC DNA test for malaria and drug resistance, tentatively called “Q-POC,” a biotech company based in Newcastle, UK, QuantuMDx Group, decided to turn to internet-based public funding on Indiegogo as of February 12, 2014. A recent video explains the technology as well as the concept of the project.

“Our Crowdfunding campaign is unique,” explained Elaine Warburton, OBE, CEO of QuantuMDx, in a press release. “Not only are we looking for contributors to support this phenomenally worthy cause to help save many hundreds if not thousands of children’s lives, but we’re also offering everyone the chance to leave a lasting legacy in the fight against malaria by contributing their winning ideas to the look and feel of our device and to take part in re-naming it from the current research name of Q-POC.”

According to the press release, the world loses one child per minute due to malaria. The impact of a handheld DNA testing assay without the need for clean water or a stable electricity source could make all the difference in developing nations and countries in need. The funds rasied via Indiegogo will go towards further development and the effort to expand clinical trials for the new technology.

“We have spent years developing our tech and we now have a prototype device that has completed a sample-to-result malaria DNA test in under 15 minutes,” said Jonathan O’Holleran, CSO of QuantuMDx and inventor of their signature handheld assay, in the press release. “Contributions will help take our life-saving device from the lab to the field and directly save lives. We have health workers around the world crying out for our technology and are now receiving the support of major MGOs, we just need help to finalize our development and drive the technology through clinical trials.”

I’ve discussed handheld options and extreme POCT before. In a domestic capacity, similar handheld devices to the “Q-POC,” could potentially change how we care for home-bound patients, while the foreign applications are virtually limitless -- especially in regards to developing nations. For modern clinical laboratories, the addition of a fully mobile, handheld molecular testing device could change the concept of laboratories and expand the reach of modern medicine.

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