FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Case Western grants option for malaria diagnostic device

Case Western Reserve University announced on Tuesday that it granted a two-year technology transfer option to a research spinoff company that is developing a hand-held malaria diagnostic device.

Last summer, Disease Diagnostic Group, LLC, formed from biomedical engineering research at CWRU's School of Engineering. The option from the university's Technology Transfer Office gives the company time to evaluate its Rapid Assessment of Malaria device as a step toward commercialization.

"They will be employing a working prototype to conduct field studies this fall to validate their design and ease of operation," Wayne Hawthorne, the university's senior licensing manager, said. "There is a big push worldwide to eradicate infectious diseases, such as malaria."

The RAM device detects a magnetic substance released by malaria parasites when they digest red blood cells. CWRU said the device provides a faster and more accurate diagnostic test than currently-used methods. The device is meant to detect the disease in under a minute using a single drop of blood.

Early diagnosis is key in reducing malaria deaths because early treatment is close to 100 percent effective. According to the World Health Organization, approximately half of the estimated 500 million annual infections worldwide go undiagnosed.

"We think we have an opportunity to make a difference in millions of lives," Brian Grimberg, DDG's co-founder, said. "We may be able to license the technology in about a year. What we have to do is take this device into the field for point-of-care diagnosis. We have to show that it works, so that we can seek World Health Organization approval."