British biotech QuantuMDx has announced the first prototype of the company’s handheld device for malaria diagnosis and drug resistance testing in honor of World Malaria Day on April 25. Designed for insertion into the QuantuMDx Q-POC universal reader, the disposable cartridge enables low-cost, bedside testing within 15 minutes.

Drug resistance has become an increasing problem among the estimated 200 million people who contract malaria each year. The new technology will enable healthcare workers to prescribe effective drugs immediately, supporting eradication efforts.

“This device represents a significant piece in the puzzle for my vision of a global network—an infectious disease monitoring system, wherein GPS data and real-time DNA sequence data are immediately analyzed and used to track emerging new infectious disease threats and drug resistance,” said Jonathan O’Halloran, cofounder and CSO of QuantuMDx.

QuantuMDx’s technology is currently in use by the NanoMal consortium led by St. George’s, University of London, and funded by the European Union FP7 program. The prototype is expected to undergo clinical trials later in 2014 in Gabon with support from consortium partners Tubingen University and the Karolinska Institute. An Indiegogo crowd-sourcing campaign previously raised $18,000 toward development and production of assays for the trial.

“Starting with malaria, this system will benefit not just the patient but also epidemiologists and public health officials, as real-time identification of novel pathogens and drug resistance mutations will allow for the mobilization of resources including the correct anti-infective to the exact site that these diseases originate,” O’Halloran said. “This will be significantly faster than relying on traditional methods of identifying and monitoring these diseases.”