What’s new in affordable HIV prevention and testing, you ask?
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.
An mChip that diagnoses prostate cancer has already been approved for use in Europe. In the future, Columbia researcher Samuel K. Sia hopes to use the chip to test pregnant women in Rwanda for HIV and other STDs. Many of these women live too far away from labs to be diagnosed with traditional methods. “When you’re in these villages, you may have the drugs for many STDs, but you don’t know who to give treatments to, so the challenge really comes down to diagnostics,” Sia explained in a statement.
(via our IRL favorite magazine, Fast Company)