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Scientists develop new type of HIV test on a USB stick

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Scientists in Britain have developed a type of HIV test using a USB stick that can give a fast and highly accurate reading of how much virus is in a patient’s blood.

The device, created by scientists at Imperial College London and the privately-held U.S. firm DNA Electronics, uses a drop of blood to detect HIV, then creates an electrical signal that can be read by a computer, laptop or handheld device.

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The researchers say the technology, although still in the early stages, could allow patients to regularly monitor their virus levels in a similar way to diabetes patients checking their blood sugar levels.

It could be particularly useful in remote settings to help HIV patients manage their treatment more effectively, since current tests to detect virus levels take at least three days and involve sending a blood sample to a laboratory.

“Monitoring viral load is crucial to the success of HIV treatment. At the moment, testing often requires costly and complex equipment that can take a couple of days to produce a result,” said Graham Cooke, who co-led the research from the Imperial’s department of medicine.

“We have taken the job done by this equipment, which is the size of a large photocopier, and shrunk it down to a USB chip.”

The test, which uses a mobile phone chip, requires a drop of blood to be placed onto a spot on the USB stick. Any HIV in the sample triggers an acidity change, which the chip transforms into an electrical signal. This is sent to the USB stick, which shows the result on a computer or electronic device.

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Published in the journal Scientific Reports, results showed the stick test was 95 percent accurate over 991 blood samples, and the average time to produce a reading was 20.8 minutes.

Some 36 million people worldwide are infected with the human deficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS, and the majority of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Current AIDS drugs, called anti-retrovirals, reduce virus levels in a patients blood to near zero.

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But in some cases the drugs stop working – sometimes because virus has developed resistance to them – and the first sign of that would be a rise in a patient’s so-called “viral load”.

Virus levels can’t be detected by routine HIV tests, which can only show whether or not a person has the virus.

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(Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Audience breaks into applause as Vindman explains why he’s not afraid of testifying against Trump

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Republican efforts to undermine Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman apparently failed to persuade the audience in the impeachment hearing room.

The National Security Council staffer was showered with applause after reading the closing portions of his opening statement for a second time at the request of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY).

"Can you read the last paragraph for me again, the second-to-last one, can you read that again for me?" Maloney said. "I think the American public deserves to have it again."

Vindman agreed, and said his father would probably appreciate that.

"Dad, my sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol, talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family," Vindman said. "Do not worry, I'll be fine for telling the truth."

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Schiff gives Republicans a lesson on fact witnesses after they complain officials haven’t used the word ‘bribery’

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As the impeachment inquiry into President Trump's alleged attempts to pressure Ukraine's government into investigating his political rivals continues, Democrats have shifted to characterizing Trump's actions as "bribery" to describe how he allegedly offered Ukraine military aid on the condition that its government investigate the Bidens.

In a bid to counter the Democrats’ narrative, some Republicans have pointed out that none of the witnesses have used the word “bribery” during the impeachment inquiry’s hearings. Today, House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) took a moment to clarify why that is.

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‘I did my job’: Lt. Col Vindman fends off Jim Jordan’s disrespectful attack on his service

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Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a national security aide, pushed back on suggestions made by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) that he failed to do his job correctly when he reported President Donald Trump's alleged attempted bribery of Ukraine's president.

At a House impeachment hearing, Jordan asked Vindman why he had gone to a attorney for an advice on Trump's behavior after he was unable to report it to a supervisor.

"You not only didn't go to your boss... you went straight to your lawyer," Jordan said.

"I did my core function, which is coordination," Vindman explained. "I spoke to the appropriate people within the inner-agency and then circling back around, [my attorney] told me not to talk to anybody."

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