Sunday, August 7, 2011

mChip that can tell you if you have HIV within minutes

A portable blood test that can diagnose an infection within minutes has been hailed as a breakthrough in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the developing world.

The size of a credit card, the mChip has proved almost 100 per cent accurate in testing for HIV in Rwanda.
Hundreds of tests using a prototype were carried out in the town of Kigali and returned a 95 per cent accuracy for HIV and 76 per cent for syphilis.

The plastic device, manufactured in the U.S. and developed by scientists at the University of Columbia in New York, costs just $1 (60p) to make.

Lead researcher Professor Samuel Sia said: 'The idea is to make a large class of diagnostic tests accessible to patients in any setting in the world, rather than forcing them to go to a clinic to draw blood and then wait days for their results.'

The mChip uses optics to read fluids by taking a single pin-prick of blood.

It contains ten detection zones which the blood passes through and then returns a positive or negative result for HIV/AIDS or syphilis in about 15 minutes.

The result is presented in a simple colour-coded manner similar to a pregnancy test, making it extremely easy to use and understand.

An alternative is to use a cheap detector box - the 'lab' - to check the results.

The mChip's low cost and efficiency has been hailed as a major breakthrough in the fight against HIV in the developing world.

Drugs to place HIV in remission have long been available but have been deemed too expensive to use on a widescale basis.

The mChip, on the other hand, is extremely cheap, can fit in an aid worker's pocket and produces a result with a high degree of accuracy within 15 minutes.

Researchers are now hoping to increase testing for sexually-transmitted diseases in pregnant women in Africa

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