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New HIV test 10 times more sensitive, and it's cheaper

By Chris Wickham | Oct 30, 2012 | COMMENTS [ 15 ]

Modified test could also detect other diseases

hivScientists have come up with a test for the virus that causes AIDS that is ten times more sensitive and a fraction of the cost of existing methods, offering the promise of better diagnosis and treatment in the developing world.

The test uses nanotechnology to give a result that can be seen with the naked eye by turning a sample red or blue, according to research from scientists at Imperial College in London published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

“Our approach affords for improved sensitivity, does not require sophisticated instrumentation and it is ten times cheaper,” Molly Stevens, who led the research, told Reuters.

Simple and quick HIV tests that analyse saliva already exist but they can only pick up the virus when it reaches relatively high concentrations in the body.

“We would be able to detect infection even in those cases where previous methods, such as the saliva test, were rendering a ‘false negative’ because the viral load was too low to be detected,” she said. 

The test could also be reconfigured to detect other diseases, such as sepsis, Leishmaniasis, Tuberculosis and malaria, Stevens said.

Testing is not only crucial in picking up the HIV virus early but also for monitoring the effectiveness of treatments.

“Unfortunately, the existing gold standard detection methods can be too expensive to be implemented in parts of the world where resources are scarce,” Stevens said.

According to 2010 data from the World Health Organisation, about 23 million people living with HIV are in Sub-Saharan Africa out of a worldwide total of 34 million.

The virus is also spreading faster and killing more people in this part of the world. Sub-Saharan Arica accounted for 1,9 million new cases out of a global total of 2,7 million in the same year, and 1,2 million out of the 1,8 million deaths.

The new sensor works by testing serum, a clear watery fluid derived from blood samples, in a disposable container for the presence of an HIV biomarker called p24.

If p24 is present, even in minute concentrations, it causes the tiny gold nanoparticles to clump together in an irregular pattern that turns the solution blue. A negative result separates them into ball shapes that generate a red colour.

The researchers also used the test to pick up the biomarker for Prostate Cancer called Prostate Specific Antigen, which was the target of previous work that Stevens did with collaborators at University of Vigo in Spain.

That sensor used tiny gold stars laden with antibodies that latched onto the marker in a sample and produced a silver coating that could be detected with microscopes.

Stevens and her collaborator on the new test, Roberto de la Rica, said they plan to approach not-for-profit global health organisations to help them manufacture and distribute the new sensor in low income countries.

- Reuters

COMMENTS [ 15 ]

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One expect such discoveries from people who might have given birth to the disease. Instead of finding the cure they are busy advancing in finding how best they can tell if one is positive.........

Oct 30, 2012 10:9 | 0 replies

That is shocking and is telling something about the origin of this virus, if research is to be believed that out of 34million people world wide living with a virus, 23 million come from subsaharan africa, that means this virus started from africa , despite the previous research that said virus started to manifest from the gays , in america and west, which is contrary to this since africans has never been prominently associated with gays.
This research and figures if we have to go by their illustrations of numbers , the world only raises 11millions of people living with virus compared to subsaharan coming up with 23million, shocking that 1 in 4 people in africa must be living with a virus. Which means virus came from africa, maybe from the food african are consuming than anything else, I presume, hence further research need to be focused on causative factors than transmiting agents (human and sex) that we already know about.

Oct 30, 2012 11:49 | 0 replies

Bloggers please Google word "MK NAOMI" you will be shocked how HIV started

Oct 30, 2012 6:56 | 0 replies

@ Arewanga
Good for those who play unptotected like Amazulu.
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This is so not true, u really don't have facts abt yo speculation, would to suggest yu take it back.

Oct 30, 2012 4:25 | 0 replies

Yeap it's all good but rona African we'll get last grade as usual......... medicines used in europe n america are not the same tse di tlang mo Africa........balotsana ba....

Oct 30, 2012 3:23 | 0 replies

@Fanle
"Call centre Agents" in what, unprotected sex, taxi industry, high stats in HIV, highest school class is grade 7 just like Umshini Wam. It is very difficult and not worth it trying to educate a person like you who want to remain in the state of denial and ignorance forever. Ukusebenzisana nabantu abafana nawe kuthatha amandla ami wonke, kungcono ngizithulele kuloludaba.

Oct 30, 2012 2:16 | 0 replies

gedleyihlekisa
@ Arewanga
But you also play unprotected sex you moron
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Did your illiteracy made you write the above?, come on who did i play unprotected with, your sister?

Oct 30, 2012 1:14 | 0 replies

In most communities accross SA sex come first before test refering to the level of rapes in this country people are so horney such that they forget to do regular tests it will be a deterent but as long as people dont take their responsibilities seriousLY it is just going to be flop

Oct 30, 2012 11:36 | 0 replies

Mokwepa

Human Immune Virus (HIV) is the virus. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the disease which is caused by the virus.

Oct 30, 2012 11:15 | 0 replies

Nywanamukalaka and Malema stop with your negative comments and conspiracy theories. These people are doing something that will have a positive impact on the scourge of HIV/AIDS. I see you believe in dark forces or maybe you have delusions of JUJU!

Oct 30, 2012 11:14 | 0 replies

"hivScientists have come up with a test for the virus that causes AIDS" poor jenalism
this is wrong..someone help me

Oct 30, 2012 11:10 | 0 replies