A Cheap ‘Litmus Test’ Can Detect HIV and Flu by a Drop of Blood

A collaboration of researchers from Japan and the Netherlands created a practical and accurate way to diagnose infectious diseases. It only requires a drop of blood, a test strip and a simple camera – even the camera of the smartphone will work.

The test detects disease by analyzing antibodies that the human body releases when it detects the presence of viruses and bacteria. The mechanism is based on the sensory protein, which is glowing blue when it comes in contact with blood. Then it should change its color to green. However, if the sample contains a lot of antibodies this process gets blocked. Thus, the more intense the blue glow of the test strip impregnated with protein, the more antibodies there are in the blood. This indicates the presence of pathogens.

The result can already be received in 20 minutes. For a more accurate assessment, the researchers recommend using a smartphone camera or any other. Scientists emphasize that this technique is not only extremely available to the general public, but also very accurate. By measuring the ratio of blue and green you can get quantitative information about the concentration of antibodies. This makes it possible not only to perform a basic diagnostic process, but also to regulate the dose of drugs during treatment.

During trials, the approach was able to detect antibodies for three diseases simultaneously — HIV, influenza, and Dengue fever. The researchers who introduced the method hope that the test strips will already be available on the market in the next few years. They will be particularly useful in tropical regions, where hospitals often lack the necessary equipment for diagnosis.

Posted in Clinical Trials News.