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Breakthrough: $1 microchip can detect HIV in 15 mins

Late HIV diagnoses and ineffective testing, the greatest barriers in fighting against AIDS, may soon become the thing of past, thanks to a microchip that can successfully identify the disease in just 15 minutes.

Currently, it takes days or even weeks to get results for HIV tests.

Developed by scientists at the University of Columbia in New York, this credit card size chip, dubbed mChip, can accurately analyze blood through its optical sensor.

Further, the results presented in a color coded manner, just like pregnancy test, are easy to understand.

“Overall, we demonstrate an integrated strategy for miniaturizing complex laboratory assays using microfluidics and nanoparticles to enable POC diagnostics and early detection of infectious diseases in remote settings,” stated scientists in journal 'Nature.'

"The idea is to make a large class of diagnostic tests accessible to patients in any setting in the world, rather than forcing them to go to a clinic to draw blood and then wait days for their results.” --Professor Samuel Sia, lead study researcher

mChip almost 100% accurate
To test the efficacy of the chip, researchers carried out hundreds of tests in Rwanda, and found the device almost 100 percent accurate in detecting HIV.

In test of HIV in the remote areas, the chip returned only one false positive case out of the sample of 70.

In the dual test of HIV and syphilis, there was 95 percent accuracy for HIV positive cases and 76 percent for syphilis cases.

Costs just $1
Most important, not only is the device effective in detecting disease, it is also very cheap. The chip cost scientists $1 to make. This makes it much cheaper than the lab tests currently used.

“The idea is to make a large class of diagnostic tests accessible to patients in any setting in the world, rather than forcing them to go to a clinic to draw blood and then wait days for their results,” stated Professor Samuel Sia, lead study researcher.

The device's effectiveness and low cost can definitely be termed as breakthrough in fight against HIV and AIDS.

Sia is hopeful to use the device to to test pregnant women in Rwanda and other poor nations for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), as in villages drugs may be available but one doesn't know who is suffering from HIV.

“So the challenge really comes down to diagnostics,” Sia added.