clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

QuantuMDx Unveils a Handheld DNA Analyzer That Identifies Disease in Minutes

The company believes the working prototype may improve treatments and possibly prevent epidemics.

James Temple - Re/code

Medical device maker QuantuMDx said Wednesday it had completed a working prototype of its handheld DNA analyzer, a mobile tool that could improve treatments in the developing world and provide early warnings of epidemics.

The company’s announcement comes on the heels of news from researchers at New Zealand’s University of Otago, who unveiled a handheld reusable DNA sequencer known as the Freedom4 last month.

With a drop of blood, QuantuMDx’s device can test for diseases such as Ebola, gonorrhea, HIV, malaria and tuberculosis, as well as identify drug-resistant strains of the illnesses, generally in 10 to 20 minutes.

In the field, it means the Q-POC handheld laboratory “provides doctors with a chance to provide the right therapeutic” during what’s often the one shot they’ve got, said Jonathan O’Halloran, chief scientific officer at QuantuMDx, during an interview with Re/code at the TEDMED conference in San Francisco.

The company raised money to develop the prototype through an Indiegogo campaign earlier this year.

The six-year-old Newcastle, U.K., company said the information gathered by frontline health workers can also be anonymized, geo-stamped and uploaded into the cloud. In turn, researchers could use data pulled from various clinics, villages and countries to identify real-time distribution of diseases and mutation patterns of pathogens.

Providing that data to organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could help put the necessary resources in the right places to prevent outbreaks from tipping into epidemics or pandemics, O’Halloran said.

The touchscreen machine itself is likely to cost $1,000, while cartridges to test for various diseases will run anywhere from a few dollars up to $100.

The company hopes to achieve an Investigational Device Exemption from the Food and Drug Administration later this year or early next, which would accelerate the approval process. It has applied for a meeting that may come later this year.

QuantuMDx hopes to begin rolling out the product in developing countries, where it wouldn’t require FDA approval, by the end of 2015.

For more information, see the video below:

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.