21 Jan 2013, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
Singapore: A team of scientists, including Dr Curtis D Chin and Dr Yuk Kee Cheung, have designed a handheld mobile device that can check the HIV status of patients with just a finger prick and synchronize the results in real time with electronic health records (EHR).
The device features all the essential functions of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, which is the most commonly used laboratory diagnostic for HIV. The research, which was published online in Clinical Chemistry, the journal of AACC, shows that the device performs laboratory-quality HIV testing in 15 minutes using finger-pricked whole blood. The technology takes a step toward, providing remote areas of the world with diagnostic services traditionally available only in centralized healthcare settings.
The device also detects weakly positive samples, and uses cellphone and satellite networks to automatically synchronize test results with patient health records from anywhere in the world. Because of this real-time data upload, this mobile device will allow policymakers and epidemiologists to monitor disease prevalence across geographical regions quickly and effectively. This could improve effectiveness in allocating medications to different communities, and patient care in general.
Dr Nader Rifai, editor-in-chief, Clinical Chemistry, said that, "This is a perfect example of how ingenuity and good science can effectively address a real and serious medical problem."
Many HIV-infected people in these regions are unable to get tested or treated because they can't easily travel to centralized healthcare centers. This creates an extreme economic burden on already-poor nations, with the epidemic estimated to cause a 1.5 percent annual loss in gross domestic product each year for the worst-affected countries.