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HIV/Aids treatment research boost


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.

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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

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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