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Fastest HIV Diagnosis with Gold Nanoparticles and Graphene

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Many different testing methods have been developed since the first discovery of HIV virus and AIDS disease. These tests have problems such as long processing periods and late detection. The fastest test can detect HIV virus a few weeks later which makes many other HIV infections possible by the people infected but not aware of their HIV infection before the time of detection. This seems terrifying but luckily nanotechnology research finally gave a faster solution for the detection of this deadly virus with the help of nanoparticles. Scientists from Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) have developed a silicon chip biosensor which can detect the virus within a week after HIV exposure which is a speed record for HIV detection.

Image Retrieved From: https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/244677-new-biosensor-can-detect-hiv-earlier-faster-ever

There are two routes used for the HIV diagnosis. One is to detect antibodies built by our body to fight with the virus. This is a reliable way of detection but number of antibodies comes to detectable levels after several weeks and time is critical for diagnosis as mentioned above. The other route directly focuses on the detection of the genetic material of the virus (RNA of HIV) and gives a faster testing possibility (faster than the conventional tests) but processing of these tests take days and these tests are quite expensive. Generally earliest detection of the HIV virus can be possible after a month of exposure to the virus.

CSIC scientist offered an effective and practical way for diagnosis of HIV infection. They are targeting an antigen named p24 which is present on the HIV viruses. The advantage of this way is that each HIV virus carries ~2000 of these p24 antigens and this allows a quick testing opportunity after a few days of exposure. CSIC scientists can detect this antigen with the gold nanoparticles on the silicon chip they developed. Gold nanoparticles are so effective that they can detect HIV viruses in blood samples with virus concentrations 100.000 times lower than the conventional test methods need for detection. Additionally, unlike the other tests, CSIC chip with gold nanoparticles can process the samples within 5 hours to give the result and this is the fastest processing time ever recorded for HIV detection.

Researchers are looking for new developments on this method and chip already in order to replace the silicon chip with graphene which, they believe, will make the test apparatus more effective and cheaper. They decide to point dope graphene layers with gold nanoparticles to create an alternative apparatus. This development will allow researchers to diagnose HIV infection with only a few layers of graphene and a number of gold nanoparticles which will be considerably small and cheap. Graphene’s use in the medical treatments seems to become widespread as it has a wonderful combination of properties.

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