Scientists from two New York universities say they've developed an inexpensive, hand-held sensor that can check a HIV patient's immune system in seconds.
Prices of antiretroviral therapy for HIV have dropped in poorer nations, but a lack of cheap, simple diagnostics to enable doctors to use those treatments remains a stumbling block.
The sensor measures the quantity of key immune cells called CD4+ cells in the blood. Physicians rely on CD4+ measurements to decide when to start drug treatments and to gauge how a patient is responding to treatment.
To make the device, researchers from Cornell University in Ithaca and the University at Albany coated electrodes with antibodies specific to CD4+ cells. When a small sample of blood is placed on a chip bearing those electrodes, the antibodies grab hold of the CD4+ cells. The captured cells then impede the flow of current across the electrodes, allowing the density of CD4+ cells to be calculated.
The study appears in the journal Biosensors & Bioelectronics.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International