High School Student Invents A Rapid Low-Cost HIV Test

A 15 year old high school student has developed a faster, cheaper way to test for HIV that could revolutionize the battle against HIV.

With the majority of HIV infections occurring in regions where access to HIV testing labs is difficult, the introduction of a low-cost rapid HIV test could provide a swift diagnosis which could cut the chances that an infected person will accidentally infect future partners.

Nicole Ticea, a 10th grader at York House School in Vancouver, developed the test using Isothermic Nucleic Acid Amplification as part of a collaboration program with Simon Fraser University

The test allows users to place a drop of blood on a chip to receive a near instantaneous result to find out if they are infected.

According to iflscience:

The test is still a long way from widespread use, with its reliability needing to pass far more stringent review, before commercial partners can even be considered. Multiple HIV testing mechanisms exist, but none are considered perfect, leading to the widespread combination of two testing mechanisms to minimize the danger of false results. In this context, Ticea’s work could easily find a niche.

Ticea used techniques that have been successful in identifying other viral infections and applied them to HIV for the first time. Rather than looking for antibodies to HIV, as the majority of existing tests do, Ticea amplifies the virus itself. This removes the window during which people are infected, but still show up as negative on antibody tests because the immune system has yet to gear up its response. Existing viral amplification tests for HIV are expensive and time consuming.

[H/T: WickedGayBlog via iflscience] [Photo credit: Simon Fraser Univerity. Nicole Ticea with her mentors Gursev Anmole and Mark Brockman]