INVESTIGATORS from Brigham and Women’s Hospital have designed a portable and affordable mobile diagnostic tool, utilizing a cellphone and nanotechnology, with the ability to detect HIV viruses and monitor its management in resource-limited regions. The novel platform is described in a paper published recently in Nature Communications.
“Early detection of HIV is critical to prevent disease progression and transmission, and it requires long-term monitoring, which can be a burden for families that have to travel to reach a clinic or hospital,” said senior author Hadi ¬¬Shafiee, PhD, a principal investigator in the Division of Engineering in Medicine and Renal Division of Medicine at the Brigham.
“This rapid and low-cost cellphone system represents a new method for detecting acute infection, which would reduce the risk of virus transmission and could also be used to detect early treatment failure.”
Traditional virus monitoring methods for HIV are expensive, requiring the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Shafiee and his colleagues sought to design an affordable, simple tool that makes HIV testing and monitoring possible for individuals in developing countries with less access to medical care.
Utilising nanotechnology, a microchip, a cellphone and a 3D-printed phone attachment, the researchers created a platform that can detect the RNA nucleic acids of the virus from a single drop of blood. The device detects the amplified HIV nucleic acids through on-phone monitoring of the motion of DNA-engineered beads without using bulky or expensive equipment.