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Canadian Researchers Develop Portable Device To Monitor HIV In Rural Areas

A team of Canadian researchers has “created a portable device that uses a computer chip with software capable of analyzing blood tests outside the lab … that could make it easier, faster and cheaper to track the progression of HIV in patients living in the developing world,” Postmedia News/Vancouver Sun reports. According to the news service, “The team’s portable cell analyzer makes it possible for health care workers to monitor HIV patients in remote areas by testing their blood on the spot and receiving results within minutes, [University of Toronto lead researcher Rakesh] Nayyar explained.”

“Most machines currently … used to analyze patients’ blood for a range of disease markers, including those used to test HIV patients, are a bit larger than a microwave, but no bigger than a dishwasher,” James Dou, a PhD candidate on the research team said, the news service notes. “In North America, the machines can cost upwards of $100,000, Nayyar said, though they may cost as little as $35,000 in Africa,” Postmedia writes, noting that the portable cell analyzer “would cost about $5,000 to $10,000 each, with each test costing only a few dollars to process.” The researchers aim to “have the hand-held version ready by March in hopes of sending up to 100 portable cell analyzers to Malawi and Thailand for use in the field by mid-2012, Dou said,” the news service writes (Roberts, 12/12).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.