PHOTO: University of British Columbia
You're looking what could become the next frontier in global health and medicine across the developing world: A credit-card sized "microfluidic" biochip that scans blood to detect HIV and accurate T-cell counts.
The test takes less than 20 minutes and costs about ten dollars, according to new research from scientists at the University of Illinois and Daktari Diagnostics.
The chip is designed to work in a battery-powered handheld device that would “deliver simple HIV diagnostics to patients anywhere in the world, regardless of geography or socioeconomic status,” the researchers say in the paper.
The chip, developed by researchers at the University of Illinois and Daktari Diagnostics, is enclosed in a small chamber. Because cells block electric current, passing a current through a tiny microfluidic pore causes the cells to essentially announce their size and shape. That’s enough to identify the cell by type, so the test can count CD4 and CD8 cells, types of T cells that indicate how healthy the patient’s immune system is.
Once in wide use, the reader would cost less than $1,000 and each test would run less than $10, according to project lead Rashid Bashir.
The microfluidic chip could become a tremendous asset in frontier medicine across Sub Saharan Africa. That region is home to about 70 percent of all people living with HIV/AIDS, according to AVERT. Many areas are without electrical power, telephone service, adequate roads, hospitals or clinics ... which severely impacts conventional testing and treatment strategies.