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Tiny DNA ‘machine’ could cut HIV diagnosis cost


New York: Researchers have designed and synthesised a nanometer-scale DNA “machine” that can make the process of detecting the antibodies that can help with the diagnosis of infectious and auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and HIV much cheaper.

Their new approach promises to support the development of rapid, low-cost antibody detection at the point-of-care, thereby eliminating the treatment initiation delays.

“One of the advantages of our approach is that it is highly versatile,” said senior co-author of the study Francesco Ricci from University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy.

“This DNA nanomachine can be in fact custom-modified so that it can detect a huge range of antibodies, this makes our platform adaptable for many different diseases,” Ricci said.

The binding of the antibody to the DNA machine causes a structural change (or switch), which generates a light signal.

The sensor does not need to be chemically activated and is rapid – acting within five minutes – enabling the targeted antibodies to be easily detected, even in complex clinical samples such as blood serum.

“Our modular platform provides significant advantages over existing methods for the detection of antibodies,” professor Alexis Vallee-Belisle from University of Montreal in Canada noted.

“It is rapid, does not require reagent chemicals, and may prove to be useful in a range of different applications such as point-of-care diagnostics and bioimaging,” Vallee-Belisle said.

“Another nice feature of our this platform is its low-cost,” professor Kevin Plaxco of the University of California, Santa Barbara, US, pointed out.

“The materials needed for one assay cost about 15 cents, making our approach very competitive in comparison with other quantitative approaches,” Plaxco said.

The findings were detailed in the journal Angewandte Chemie.



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HIV Diagnose In The LGBTQ Community Goes Down In Australia: Study

The declines were attributed to higher coverage of HIV testing and treatment in the country -- two important strategies.

Queensland, HIV
FILE - A dead tree stands near a water tank in a drought-stricken paddock located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

HIV diagnoses in Australia have hit a five-year low, with a significant drop among homosexual and bisexual men, latest figures from a major study released on Monday said.

“The good news from the report is there’s been a seven per cent decline in HIV diagnoses in the past five years, with 953 diagnoses in 2017, which compares to over 1,000 in previous years,” Professor Rebecca Guy from the University of New South Wales said here

“What’s interesting this year is the decline has not been equal across all populations,” she said.

School girls light candles in the shape of a ribbon during a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign ahead of World Aids Day, in Ahmedabad, India, Nov. 30, 2016. (VOA)

The figures involving heterosexuals have increased by 10 per cent in the last five years, Xinhua news agency reported. While those among indigenous population were also twice those of the non-indigenous ones.

The declines were attributed to higher coverage of HIV testing and treatment in the country — two important strategies, she added.

Also Read: Queensland in Australia To Combat Diseases And Deaths Caused By Climate-Change

“The key message is, for people living with HIV, increasing tendency for more frequent testing must become “an established norm”, Associate Professor Limin Mao added. (IANS)

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