London: Scientists have developed a portable blood test device which they say diagnoses an infection within minutes and could be an effective weapon in the fight against
HIV and AIDS in the developing world.
Developed by scientists at the University of Columbia in New York, the mChip, which costs only USD 1 and looks like a credit card, has proved almost 100 per cent accurate in
testing for HIV in Rwanda.
Hundreds of tests using a prototype were carried out in the town of Kigali and returned a 95 per cent accuracy for HIV and 76 per cent for syphilis, the Daily Mail reported.
"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," said Professor Samuel Sia, who led the team that developed the plastic device.
According to the researchers, the mChip uses optics to read fluids by taking a single pin-prick of blood.
It contains ten detection zones which the blood passes through and then returns a positive or negative result for AIDS or syphilis in about 15 minutes.
The result is presented in a simple colour-coded manner similar to a pregnancy test, making it extremely easy to use and understand.
An alternative is to use a cheap detector box – the "lab" -- to check the results.
The mChip`s low cost and efficiency has been hailed as a major breakthrough in the fight against HIV in the developing world.
Drugs to place HIV in remission have long been available but have been deemed too expensive to use on a widescale basis.
The mChip, on the other hand, is extremely cheap, can fit in an aid worker`s pocket and produces a result with a high degree of accuracy within 15 minutes.
The researchers are now hoping to increase testing for sexually-transmitted diseases in pregnant women in Africa.