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A quick and cheap test to determine if HIV/Aids patients need retroviral drug treatment is being advanced by the CD4 Initiative at Imperial College London.
A $7.3 million (£5.1 million) grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is to develop prototypes from Beckman Coulter and Zyomyx in the US and Macfarlane Burnet Institute in Australia.
They work by counting the numbers of CD4+ T-cells in the blood, which are critical for a properly functioning immune system and are destroyed by the HIV infection.
A count is needed when assessing whether patients should begin antiretroviral therapy, and the new test takes minutes instead of hours, days or even weeks in some developing countries.
It means that patients can quickly be told if they should begin treatment. One of the prototypes resembles a home pregnancy test, and works by taking a finger-prick blood sample.
Dr Steven Reid, project manager for the CD4 Initiative at Imperial College, said: “The new test would eliminate the need to wait for treatment.
“As soon as a patient finds out that they are HIV positive, they could immediately find out if they need to start on antiretroviral therapy.”
Copyright Press Association 2009