Adam Polaski

Can a $1 Plastic Chip Really Diagnose HIV?

Filed By Adam Polaski | August 05, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Columbia University, HIV testing, HIV/AIDS, mChip, microfluidics-based chip, Nature Medicine

BlooddropMChip.jpgDiagnosing HIV may have just gotten a lot easier, faster, and cheaper. Developers at Columbia University have recently announced that they're experiencing success with the
"mChip," a plastic chip that requires just a drop of blood and 15 minutes to diagnose HIV. At $1 each chip, the effort is an exciting, inexpensive way to quickly diagnose the virus.

Fast Company has more:

The "mChip", a credit-card-sized piece of plastic that is produced using a plastic injection molding process, tests for multiple diseases with just one pinprick of blood. There are no moving parts, and the microfluidics-based chip can be analyzed with help from a cheap optical sensor.

According to results published this week in Nature Medicine, the chip detects 100% of cases when used to test HIV or syphilis and HIV together, with a 4% to 6% false positive rate. That's similar to what is seen with standard lab tests in the developed world.

The chip could be used as a huge step forward in some African countries, where insufficient technology and monetary resources have proved to be huge roadblocks in diagnosing HIV. Blood tests can take weeks, and obviously, a lack of awareness of HIV, especially when coupled with a lack of sexual health education, can lead to a devastating proliferation of HIV. But with the mChip, the researchers hope, diagnoses can be made easier, which would also ease prevention and treatment of the disease.

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