MA company debuts Dx device that could dramatically speed up HIV, other tests

HIV diagnostics and other tests in the developed and developing worlds could become far quicker and cheaper with a device developed by a Cambridge, MA, company.

The Boston Globe reports that Nanobiosym and its nanotech-based Gene Radar device will be making its debut, of sorts, at the Health 2.0 conference this week in Silicon Valley, CA. The company, which launched in 2004 and has kept a quiet profile, is a finalist in a Nokia-sponsored contest for healthcare technology breakthroughs. Plans call for announcing the winner at Health 2.0 on Oct. 2.

Gene Radar is in clinical trials in Rwanda to diagnose HIV, and it would need to go through an FDA approval process to reach a U.S. audience. According to the article, the diagnostic device could also be used to generate near-instant results for other diseases such as malaria. It requires three simple steps. As the article explains, a drop of blood or saliva is placed on a nanochip, which is then put into Nanobiosym's Gene Radar tablet, a device loaded with special software. Gene Radar produces an analysis of the sample in a few minutes.

Anita Goel, Nanobiosym's founder, chairman and CEO, told The Boston Globe that she sees Gene Radar eventually replacing more expensive lab equipment hospitals use to perform tests. Also, doctors or practitioners without access to modern hospitals could take Gene Radar into the field.

"We're working on some very disruptive, next-generation technologies that the healthcare system we have is going to take some time to absorb," Goel is quoted as saying.

Other companies have pursued development of low-cost diagnostics specific to emerging markets. Zyomyx, for example, came up with a CD4 T-cell point-of-care HIV diagnostic test that's disposable and inexpensive. Daktari Diagnostics is developing point-of-care HIV tests targeted for Africa and other emerging markets. Alere ($ALR) also has a point-of-care HIV test but is working hard to come up with an easy-to-use TB diagnostic test for use in developing markets.

Nanobiosym recently named famed MIT professor, inventor and entrepreneur Robert Langer to its Scientific Advisory Board.

- read the full Globe story

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