USB device for testing HIV viral load in 72 hours!

Emobileclinic Health News




The Journal of Scientific Reports has published the new technological innovation developed by scientists from Imperial College London and DNA Electronics which uses a USB device that requires a drop of blood to check HIV and then initiates an electrical signal that are readable on the computer, laptop or other handheld devices.
The new device monitors the viral load in the bloodstream which is vital in monitoring a patient’s treatment.
Current tests for monitoring the amount of viral load take at least 72 hours to determine and the blood sample has to be taken to the laboratory before the result could be known.

It is worrisome to know that, the facility to perform this test is not available in most parts of the world where there is high prevalence of HIV infections. Anti-retroviral drugs currently used for HIV treatment reduce virus levels to near zero. However, in some cases the drugs became ineffective as a result of the HIV virus forming resistance to the medications.
It is against this background that the researchers embarked on this study. Dr Graham Cooke notes that “HIV treatment has dramatically improved over the last 20 years – to the point that many diagnosed with the infection now have a normal life expectancy. “However, monitoring viral load is crucial to the success of HIV treatment. At the moment, testing often requires costly and complex equipment that can take a couple of days to produce a result. We have taken the job done by this equipment, which is the size of a large photocopier, and shrunk it down to a USB chip.”

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Dr Cooke said further that the devisce may enable the patients to frequently monitor the viral load in the same way people with diabetes check their blood sugar levels.
The device uses a mobile phone chip which only requires a small sample of blood which is placed on to a spot on the USB stick. A blood sample with HIV virus creates a change in acidity which the chip transforms into an electrical signal which is sent to the USB stick and then shows the result in a programme on a computer or electronic device.
For the research, the devise tested 991 blood samples with 95 per cent accuracy with an average time of 20.8 minutes in producing the result. The team is currently researching if the device can be used to test for other viruses such as hepatitis.
DNA Electronics partnered the researchers in this great laboratory innovation while funding was provided by the National Institute for Health Research Imperial Biomedical Research Centre.






Cooke, G.S., 2016): Novel pH sensing semiconductor for point-of-care detection of HIV-1 viremia. Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/srep36000

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