Nav: Home

On-the-go diagnosis of HIV and HCV co-infections

April 13, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 12, 2016 - HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections are among the leading causes of death worldwide, and an estimated one-third of people with HIV/AIDS are co-infected with HCV. This makes them more likely to suffer worse outcomes and poses severe public health challenges within Kenya and other African countries as well.

While rapid point-of-care tests for diagnosing sexually transmitted infections are commercially available today and used within developing regions, they tend not to be affordable or accurately quantify the concentrations of the disease markers within a sample, which help to determine the stage of the infection.

But this may soon change. A group of researchers at McGill University in Montreal has recently developed a portable, paper-based electrochemical platform with multiplexing and telemedicine capabilities that may enable low-cost, point-of-care diagnosis of HIV and HCV co-infections within serum samples.

The researchers discuss the design and testing of their device this week in Biomicrofluidics, from AIP Publishing. When assessing the device's sensitivity with spiked mouse serum samples, the researchers were able to detect HIV and HCV antibodies at 300 picograms per mL and 750 picograms per mL, respectively - values lower than currently existing HIV and HCV antibody tests.

The group's work to develop HIV and HCV antibody tests was initiated by a Star in Global Health Award granted by Grand Challenge Canada.

How Does the Diagnosis Work?

"Our experimental setup consists of a paper device with eight electrochemical biosensors -- for handy, one-time, disposable use -- and a custom-made, handheld electrochemical reader, or potentiostat, to keep costs as low as possible," explained Xinyu Liu, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at McGill University. "It enables eight [simultaneous tests], four for HIV antibodies, and four for HCV antibodies," Liu said, adding that makes the test broader than existing HIV and HCV point-of-care tests.

To run a test, the paper device is simply inserted into a slot on the potentiostat, and microliter drops of serum sample and reagents are added to each biosensor. Pressing a button triggers the electrochemical measurements.

The device is also compatible with existing internet-based and mobile network-based e-health systems. Data from the eight tests can be directly displayed on an LCD screen of the potentiostat or transmitted to a smartphone or personal computer, and then to a remote site -- a centralized laboratory or hospital -- via the mobile network or Internet for remote diagnoses.

When the researchers explored a potential cross-reaction between the HIV and HCV antibody tests, they found "no significant interference of the two tests," Liu noted. "These results demonstrate that our diagnostic platform shows great potential for diagnosing HIV/HCV co-infections in real patient samples."

The main advantage offered by the platform is its ability to run eight test for HIV and HCV in parallel within 20 minutes with high accuracy, sensitivity and specificity. Beyond this, the platform's "handheld multiplexing potentiostat makes the entire electrochemical platform portable and significantly improves its adaptability to point-of-care applications," Liu explained.

And, given the wide applicability of electrochemical detection to many types of biomolecules, the platform "can be readily extended to the detection of other disease markers such as proteins, metabolites, ions, and nucleic acids," Liu added.

The next step for the researchers is to continue fine-tuning the device for practical use. "We'll explore the stability of the paper device during long-term storage, and then begin real patient sample testing in Canada and Kenya," said Liu. "Our long-term goal is to further extend the functionality of this diagnostic platform by targeting other molecular disease markers."
The article, "A portable paper-based microfluidic platform for multiplexed electrochemical detection of HIV and HCV antibodies in serum," Chen Zhao and Xinyu Liu. It will appear in the journal Biomicrofluidics on April 12, 2016 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4945311). After that date, it can be accessed at: The authors of this paper are affiliated with McGill University.


Biomicrofluidics publishes research highlighting fundamental physiochemical mechanisms associated with microfluidic and nanofluidic phenomena as well as novel microfluidic and nanofluidic techniques for diagnostic, medical, biological, pharmaceutical, environmental, and chemical applications.

American Institute of Physics

Related Hiv Articles:

The Lancet HIV: Study suggests a second patient has been cured of HIV
A study of the second HIV patient to undergo successful stem cell transplantation from donors with a HIV-resistant gene, finds that there was no active viral infection in the patient's blood 30 months after they stopped anti-retroviral therapy, according to a case report published in The Lancet HIV journal and presented at CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections).
Children with HIV score below HIV-negative peers in cognitive, motor function tests
Children who acquired HIV in utero or during birth or breastfeeding did not perform as well as their peers who do not have HIV on tests measuring cognitive ability, motor function and attention, according to a report published online today in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Efforts to end the HIV epidemic must not ignore people already living with HIV
Efforts to prevent new HIV transmissions in the US must be accompanied by addressing HIV-associated comorbidities to improve the health of people already living with HIV, NIH experts assert in the third of a series of JAMA commentaries.
The Lancet HIV: Severe anti-LGBT legislations associated with lower testing and awareness of HIV in African countries
This first systematic review to investigate HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression in men who have sex with men in Africa finds that among the most recent studies (conducted after 2011) only half of men have been tested for HIV in the past 12 months.
The Lancet HIV: Tenfold increase in number of adolescents on HIV treatment in South Africa since 2010, but many still untreated
A new study of more than 700,000 one to 19-year olds being treated for HIV infection suggests a ten-fold increase in the number of adolescents aged 15 to 19 receiving HIV treatment in South Africa, according to results published in The Lancet HIV journal.
Starting HIV treatment in ERs may be key to ending HIV spread worldwide
In a follow-up study conducted in South Africa, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have evidence that hospital emergency departments (EDs) worldwide may be key strategic settings for curbing the spread of HIV infections in hard-to-reach populations if the EDs jump-start treatment and case management as well as diagnosis of the disease.
NIH HIV experts prioritize research to achieve sustained ART-free HIV remission
Achieving sustained remission of HIV without life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a top HIV research priority, according to a new commentary in JAMA by experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
First ever living donor HIV-to-HIV kidney transplant
For the first time, a person living with HIV has donated a kidney to a transplant recipient also living with HIV.
The Lancet HIV: PrEP implementation is associated with a rapid decline in new HIV infections
Study from Australia is the first to evaluate a population-level roll-out of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men.
Researchers date 'hibernating' HIV strains, advancing BC's leadership in HIV cure research
Researchers have developed a novel way for dating 'hibernating' HIV strains, in an advancement for HIV cure research.
More HIV News and HIV Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at