Daniel Chiu from the University of Washington in the U.S. will develop a simple assay for use in low-resource settings to determine HIV load, which is critical for optimally treating patients. HIV load is determined by amplifying the RNA of the virus using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Current assays use enzymes that require cycles of precise temperatures and thus expensive equipment. They have developed a low-cost and simple digital PCR method on a chip that they will combine with loop-mediated amplification, which uses an enzyme that can amplify RNA at a constant temperature, to quantify HIV viral load. Their assay does not need complicated blood sample preparation or expensive equipment, and the results can be interpreted using a smartphone. They will evaluate it for accuracy, sensitivity and reproducibility compared to standard assays.
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