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Medicine Software Science Hardware Technology

A USB Stick Can Show HIV Test Results In Under 30 Minutes (qz.com) 52

Researchers at Imperial College London have developed a USB stick that can measure the presence and amount of HIV in a person's blood in under 30 minutes and with 95% accuracy. The USB stick should help make testing easier in places like sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV is a serious problem and where many people live in rural regions hours or days travel away from hospitals or clinics. Also, traditional HIV testing can take days to show results, whereas the USB stick can show results in minutes. Quartz reports: The new diagnostic tool, co-created by the university and biotech company DNA Electronics, requires simply putting a single drop of blood onto a designated spot on the USB stick. The device contains a mechanism that can detect if there's any HIV genetic material -- RNA -- in the drop of blood, and if so, how much. Then, when the stick is connected to a laptop or handheld device, the data are automatically delivered to an app where the patient can quickly read his or her results. One of the most effective HIV treatments currently, called anti-retroviral treatment, reduces virus levels to near zero. However, in some cases, the virus may develop a resistance to medication or therapy, causing the virus to resurface. To catch such developments early, patients can use the devices for monitoring purposes. "The disposable test could be used by HIV patients to monitor their own treatment and help patients in remote regions of the world, where more standard HIV tests are inaccessible," the authors of the study write. For now, it's still in the proof-of-concept stage, and years away from hitting the market.
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A USB Stick Can Show HIV Test Results In Under 30 Minutes

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  • Under the gop system 30 min to get black listed for life.

    • So you are against the free market then? Because from what I can tell the GOP position is that you shouldn't be forced to pay for things you do not support or which is against your religion. After all if this test is as cheap and effective as they say? Plenty of charities supporting that part of the world, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is just one that comes to mind.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It might have a virus.

  • DNAe has pedigree (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 11, 2016 @09:44PM (#53269025)

    For edification, DNAe actually has some merit. They're a London based company and developed the technology behind the Ion Torrent DNA sequencer that is sold by Thermo Fisher. The Ion Torrent is a valid machine, although not quite as good as the MiSeq from Illumina. It works by breaking DNA up and the hydrogen ions released create a measurable signal alteration on the silicon FETs; the chemistry invovled is astounding to make it go where you want and sequence stuff.

    https://www.thermofisher.com/us/en/home/brands/ion-torrent.html

    This appears to be a miniaturization of the technology. Viruses, particularly RNA viruses, have a lot fewer genes to work with; HIV only has 9 genes as compared to the human genome which has around 25,000. Since you don't need as much processing power it's conceivable you could miniaturize the Ion Torrent technology for a smaller target like HIV viral RNA.

  • maybe/maybe not.
  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Saturday November 12, 2016 @12:59AM (#53269747)

    It has "a mechanism" to detect RNA...but only one specific kind of RNA? They didn't come up with a broader approach to detect, say, many kinds of viruses? And it's so commoditizable that it's a USB stick?

    *cough*Theranos*cough*

  • 95% accurate with the other 5% in favour of false positive (falsely showing you have HIV) would probably be a lot better than mistakenly telling you that you don't have HIV.
    If somebody uses the stick and gets the HIV+ reading, then hopefully he/she will go in for a more accurate test. Getting the all-clear for somebody actually is infected could result in some pretty bad outcomes though.

    • by castus ( 4552487 )
      Actually the sensitivity of the actual chip thingy is 88.8%, 95% was for the same test done in a lab if I understood it correctly. The specificity was 100%, which means it doesn't give any false positives. The number of controls in the study was pretty low though, so the real specificity might be lower.

      If somebody uses the stick and gets the HIV+ reading, then hopefully he/she will go in for a more accurate test.

      You probably have to take a more accurate test to get a prescription for antiretrovirals. Not sure if the voodoo doctor requires it though

  • I like the idea of a USB stick that can reveal my HIV status. However, I have two questions about how this works:

    • Where do I plug the USB stick in?
    • How does the USB stick display the results? Does it have red and green lights that glow appropiately when the analysis is complete?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Good up until "disposable test".
    That's not so good.
    We don't need more disposable junk.
    We don't need the high cost either.
    It should be rinsed and reusable.
    Shame on them.

  • need to know both false positive and false negative surely?

    If most people don't have HIV and people without HIV are correctly told that 95% of the time, that means there are shit loads of people being incorrectly told they have HIV

  • Then why should the results be read through an app? Once results are found maybe it should produce some commonly readable files as the USB stick is mounted as a drive, allowing you to view say a PDF, TXT, HTML, and PNG of the results, allowing it to be read on any device in whatever format is most convenient. Why tie this to an app that may or may not be updated or even currently supported on the given OS?

  • does it come with a needle, some disinfectant and where can i get one ? i need to get laid STAT
  • Got a date? Give the test before you get busy ! Make the device cheap and available everywhere. And we can have easy testing in public schools and in many other places and situations as well. Jails and prisons could use this to be certain that cell mates do not contaminate each other.

The reason computer chips are so small is computers don't eat much.

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