Scientists have developed a USB stick that can test for HIV in less than 30 minutes. The device, created by a team at Imperial College London and DNA Electronics, uses a drop of blood to detect the disease, and then creates an electrical signal that can be read by a computer, laptop or handheld device.
“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.” Dr Graham Cooke, senior author, Imperial College London
The disposable test could be used not only for HIV patients to monitor their own treatment, but also enable them to be managed more effectively in remote locations, such as sub-Saharan African. Current tests to detect the amount of virus take at least three days, often longer, and involves sending a blood sample to a laboratory.
The current treatment for HIV, called anti-retroviral treatment, reduces virus levels to near zero. However, in some cases the medication may stop working – perhaps because the HIV virus has developed resistance to the drugs.
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