Scientists in the UK have developed a USB stick that can quickly and accurately measure the amount of HIV is in a patient’s blood.
The medical device was created by scientists at Imperial College London and tech firm DNA Electronics, and all it needs is a simple drop of blood to measure HIV-1 levels. It then creates an electrical signal that’s fed into a computer, laptop, or handheld device. The disposable test could be used by HIV patients to monitor their own treatment and help patients in remote regions of the world, where more standard HIV tests are inaccessible.
The timely detection of viremia in HIV-infected patients receiving antiviral treatment is key to ensuring effective therapy and preventing the emergence of drug resistance. In high HIV burden settings, the cost and complexity of diagnostics limit their availability. Scientists in the UK have developed a novel complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) chip based, pH-mediated, point-of-care HIV-1 viral load monitoring assay that simultaneously amplifies and detects HIV-1 RNA. A novel low-buffer HIV-1 pH-LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) assay was optimised and incorporated into a pH sensitive CMOS chip. Screening of 991 clinical samples (164 on the chip) yielded a sensitivity of 95% (in vitro) and 88.8% (on-chip) at >1000 RNA copies/reaction across a broad spectrum of HIV-1 viral clades. Median time to detection was 20.8 minutes in samples with >1000 copies RNA. The sensitivity, specificity and reproducibility are close to that required to produce a point-of-care device which would be of benefit in resource poor regions, and could be performed on an USB stick or similar low power device.
Novel pH sensing semiconductor for point-of-care detection of HIV-1 viremia
Source: Nature: Scientific reports
Image: Imperial College London/DNA Electronics