The gum, called MALiVA, contains magnetic nanoparticles tipped with antibodies that attracts molecules created by the malaria virus. When you’re done with the gum, you spit it out onto a paper strip. The chemicals picked up by the gum will leave behind a thin line on the strip of paper, indicating that you tested positive for malaria.
This would be a useful form of malaria testing in areas were the standard equipment for detecting malaria, like microscopes or an antigen test, are hard to acquire, or where simple procedures like drawing blood is considered taboo. The idea behind MALiVA is that signs of malaria show up in saliva as well, so there’s no need to draw blood!
Sadly, the gum was still a work in progress when this news story first appeared, and there hasn't been much more information coming out about it since. To learn more about the engineers behind the projet click here.