DIY USB HIV Detection

Cercetatorii de la Imperial College of London au gasit solutia pentru a tine sub control Virusul Imunodeficientei Umane (HIV) in acele zone ale lumii cu un acces limitat la centre de ingrijire medicala. 

Acestia au dezvoltat un chip, care atasat la un stick USB, identifica (dintr-o picatura de sange), prezenta virusului in organism dar si nivelul de raspandire al acestuia. 
 

Ca urmare a descoperirilor din ultimii ani in tratamentul HIV, acesta nu mai este nici pe departe o condamnare la moarte: persoanele purtatoare ale acestui virus pot duce o viata normala, de lunga durata, medicamentele facand posibila stagnarea virusului si impiedica transmiterea acestuia de la mama la copil. 

 

Ca tratamentul sa fie eficient, este foarte importanta descoperirea virusului in faze incipiente (o persoana contaminata cu HIV poate avea primele simptome dupa 5-10 ani de la contaminare), precum si tratamentul administrat zilnic.

 

Exista zone ale lumii cu un numar de purtatori de HIV foarte mare (de exemplu in Africa Subsahariana sunt aproximativ 39 milioane de persoane infectate) unde accesul la centrele de ingrijire medicala este limitat sau chiar imposibil. 
 

In special pentru aceste zone, dar nu numai, cercetatorii de la Imperial College of London au dezvoltat un senzor atasat la un stick USB care, nu numai ca identifica prezenta virusului in sange, dar masoara si nivelul de raspandire al acestuia in organism. 

 

Daca virusul este prezent, senzorul schimba aciditatea sangelui, aciditate care este apoi transformata intr-un semnal electric. Stick-ul USB atasat la calculator, laptop sau tableta, transmite semnalul electric catre un program care masoara nivelul de HIV din picatura de sange. Monitorizarea constanta a nivelului de HIV din organism este necesara pentru a masura rezistenta virusului la tratament.  

 

Rezultatul este obtinut in mai putin de 20 de minute, folosind o singura picatura de sange, spre deosebire de testele clasice, in care rezultatul este obtinut in saptamani sau chiar luni. 

 

Folosind inventia britanicilor, testul HIV devine la fel de simplu precum masurarea nivelului de glicemie in cazul persoanelor cu diabet, putand fi facut acasa, de pacientul insusi. 

 

Este o solutie ieftina si ultra-portabila, cu o rata de succes de 95%, care poate fi folosita cu succes in zonele cu acces limitat la centre de ingrijire medicala. Testul poate fi folosit  si de catre ONG-urile internationale ale caror programe sunt directionate catre detectia incipienta a virusului HIV dar nu numai. 

 

Cercetatorii lucreaza la un senzor asemanator pentru a detecta virusul hepatic. 

 

EN: 

 

Scientists at Imperial College of London have found a solution to keep Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) under control in those areas of the world with limited access to healthcare. They have developed a chip, connected to a USB stick, which identifies the presence of HIV from a drop of blood. 

 

As a consequence of the recent developments in HIV treatment, the virus is not like a death sentence anymore: HIV carriers have a normal and long life, the level of load (the spread of the virus in the body) is towards zero with current drug types and the virus is not transmitted anymore from mother to child during pregnancy.

 

In order for such treatments to be effective however, it is very important to detect the presence of HIV in a very early stage and take in medication on a daily basis. A person carrying HIV may only experience the first symptoms 5-10 years after contamination.

 

There are regions in the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa where the number of HIV carriers is huge (around 39 million) and the access to healthcare centers is limited or even non-existent. 

 

Specifically, but not exclusively, for these regions, the researchers at Imperial College of London have developed an USB-attached sensor. This sensor is not only able to detect the presence of HIV, but also to measure the level of load of the virus. This is very meaningful in determining whether the virus has already developed drug resistance or not yet. 

 

If the virus is present, the sensor changes the acidity of the blood, which is then transformed into an electrical signal. The electrical signal is then transmitted from the USB stick to a computer, laptop or tablet programme which measures the level of HIV load. The constant monitoring of the level of load is important to detect the virus’ resistance to drugs.

The test result (using only one drop of blood) is obtained in less than 20 minutes. This is in sharp contrast with the currently available tests, which usually give a result after several weeks or even months. 

 

Using the invention of the Britons, conducting an HIV test is as simple as the measurement of glucose level and can be done at home, by the patient himself. 

 

It is a cheap and ultra-portable solution with an accuracy rate of 95% which could be used, for example, in areas with limited access to healthcare centers or in mass programs by international NGOs with a focus on early-stage HIV detection. 

 

These researchers are also working on developing a similar sensor for hepatitis virus detection.