A biosensor detects HIV one week after infection

The device developed by the CSIC obtains clinical results in less than five hours, a key immediacy to combat the virus. This technology is also used in the early detection of cancer.

A team of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) has developed a biosensor that can detect type 1 HIV during the first week after the acute infection. This is defined as the time from the acquisition of the virus to seroconversion, that is, the appearance of detectable antibodies to HIV in the blood.

The experiments, performed with human serum, perceive the p24 antigen, a protein present in the HIV-1 virus. The technology, patented by the CSIC, detects this protein in concentrations 100,000 times lower than what the current systems do.

In addition, the total time of the trial is four hours and 45 minutes, so that the clinical results could be obtained on the same day.

The technology detects p24 protein in concentrations 100,000 times lower than current systems. The combination of these two structures produces mechanical and optical signals to detect p24, which amplify each other producing an extraordinary sensitivity.

The CSIC technology is also being applied for the early detection of some types of cancer. “The chip itself, the physical part, is the same for HIV testing as it is for cancer biomarkers.

What changes is the chemical part, the solution that we place so that it reacts according to what we are looking for. For this reason, our fundamental work focuses on developing applications for this new technology, “says CSIC researcher Javier Tamayo, who works at the Institute of Microelectronics in Madrid.

“The biosensor uses structures that are manufactured with well-established technologies in microelectronics, which allows its production on a large scale and at low cost. This, together with its simplicity, could make it a good candidate to be used in developing countries.

The duration of the stage between infection and seroconversion is approximately four weeks. The early detection of HIV is crucial for the improvement of the individual’s health.

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