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Tiny blood card offers easier tests for remote areas




 

A cheap and portable blood test could provide a breakthrough for diagnosing infections in remote areas of the world, a scientific study says.

The mChip is about the size of a credit card and can diagnose infections within minutes, according to a study in the journal Nature Medicine.

Prototype tests for diseases such as HIV and syphilis in Rwanda showed almost 100% accuracy, it said.

The US-developed device has a projected cost of $1 (60p).

This would make it much cheaper than the lab-based tests currently used.

The plastic chip contains 10 detection zones, and can test for multiple diseases with only a pinprick of blood.

Results can be seen with the naked eye or with a low-cost detector.

"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 Samuel Sia, a professor at New York's Columbia University who is a lead developer of the device.

Hundreds of tests using a prototype of the device were carried out in Kigali, Rwanda. They showed 95% accuracy for HIV and 76% accuracy for syphilis, the study says.

Researchers hope to use the mChip to help increase testing of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) in pregnant women, particularly in Africa.

A version of the device has also been designed to test for prostate cancer. 



 


Copyright © 2011 -BBC News, Publisher. All rights reserved to BBC Reproduction of this article (other than one copy for personal reference) must be clered through the BBC.

Information in this article was accurate in July 31, 2011. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.