SPANISH RESEARCHERS PATENT HIV TEST THAT DETECTS THE VIRUS WITHIN A WEEK OF INFECTION

Spain’s top research institution has patented an HIV test that can detect the virus within a week of infection. 

A biosensor developed by scientists of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) detects the p24 antigen, a protein attached to the HIV virus, in human blood, the council said in a statement.

The technology “detects the protein at concentrations 100,000 times lower than in current techniques”.

The test takes about five hours, so results can be obtained the same day.

The outcome of tests with the sensor was published this week in the science journal, PLOS ONE.

The sensor is a rice grain-sized chip combining micro-mechanical silicon structures and gold nanoparticles, both sensitised with p24-specific antibodies.

The p24 antigen is caught between the gold nanoparticles and the micromechanical silicon structures, which detect it using optical and mechanical processes.

“The chip itself, the physical part, is identical for HIV tests and for cancer biomarker tests,” says CSIC researcher Javier Tamayo, who works at the Institute of Microelectronics in Madrid.

“What changes is the chemical component— the solution applied— so that it reacts to what we are looking for. That’s why our fundamental work is focused on developing applications for this new technology.”

image: Researchers Javier Tamayo and Priscila Kosaka. Photo: Joan Costa / CSIC