Technology behind DVD players (does anyone use those any more?) is gaining a second life as the basis for an inexpensive HIV diagnostic test.
Credit Swedish researchers with this innovative finding, specifically a team at the School of Biotechnology at KTH Royal Institute of technology in Stockholm. BioOptics World and others covered the research highlights.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Photonics, could lead to the development of an inexpensive HIV testing diagnostic in an era where public health officials continue to pursue expanded screening and treatment in the developing world, BioOptics notes. There continues to be a push for more accessible HIV testing in U.S. as well. OraSure has taken a slightly different path to meet this goal, having gained FDA approval last year for its over-the-counter HIV diagnostic, the first of its kind.
Their work amounts to an immensely creative reuse of a commercial DVD drive. The scientists converted the machine to a laser-scanning microscope. According to the article, the enhanced machine offers high-resolution capabilities for both blood analysis and cellular imaging. So how do they know it works? That would be a proof-of-concept demonstration, in which they successfully collected CD4 cells from blood (HIV, in part, uses CD4 to multiply). And the DVD-scanning reader technology scanned it, all in a few minutes.
As BioOptics notes, the advance could help make HIV diagnostics more widespread in the developing world. Part of that reason is the cost. Hospitals typically use flow cytometry equipment to conduct HIV blood tests, but they cost more than $30,000 each. A "Lab-on-DVD" diagnostic device would be a bargain, for under $200.
"With an ordinary DVD player, we have created a cheap analytical tool for DNA, RNA, proteins and even entire cells," researcher Aman Russom is quoted as saying. Their invention, pending further tests, has potential well beyond HIV diagnostics.