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PARC Builds iPod-Sized HIV Detector

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the use-the-y-jack dept.

Medicine 93

MikeChino writes "Right now it's difficult, if not impossible, to quickly detect HIV in patients living in impoverished countries. That may all change soon, though — researchers at a California outfit called the Palo Alto Research Center have built an iPod-sized handheld device that can provide an immune check-up in under 10 minutes — all with a prick of the finger. With millions of people around the world without access to a full-size laboratory, PARC's device could revolutionize the detection and treatment of HIV."

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93 comments

F1R$T (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712036)

Eat it bitches!

Confusing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712458)

Aren't all people who use apple products already HIV+? I mean, just see if they are using an iPod, and there is your test.

waste of money (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712042)

the African monkey fuckers deserve what they have. let them rot away.

Re:waste of money (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31713354)

Not monkey fuckers, monkey eaters, they are a source of meat to some. Bestiality isn't that common. But then maybe you're trying to say Africans = monkeys.

False positives? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712044)

So it counts CD4+ T cells. Doesn't anything else kill them?

Re:False positives? (3, Informative)

RsG (809189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712164)

You never confirm with just one test that you have HIV. A first positive gives a reason to do a second, more thorough, test to determine if the infection is present. Also, if your T-cells are low enough to give a false positive, you probably want to find out why, as other conditions could be present.

False positives aren't as big an issue as false negatives. There's a reason why, if a person is thought to have been exposed to an HIV vector, they get multiple tests spaced out over the course of weeks or months; there is a gap between infection and lowered T-cell count. Mind you, this isn't really a new problem, or specific to the device from TFA. If the new detector is as reliable, or nearly as reliable, as current testing procedures, but cheap enough to be deployed widely in the third world, it is a very useful development.

This is great news (4, Insightful)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712046)

And not just for the extremely rural areas. It can be used in a doctors office here in the U.S. And that the device doesn't cost a small fortune means you'll see it in widespread adoption in the first world too.

Re:This is great news (3, Informative)

Jenming (37265) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712118)

In the US at least we already have access to Rapid Oral HIV Tests that give results in about 20 minutes, require no complicated equipment and are available for free in most cities.

Now if this device was cheap and easy enough to appear in nightclubs...

Re:This is great news (2, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712484)

Now if this device was cheap and easy enough to appear in nightclubs...

Then it'd be your mother...

Re:This is great news (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31714810)

In the US at least we already have access to Rapid Oral HIV Tests that give results in about 20 minutes, require no complicated equipment and are available for free in most cities.

Why does it take two weeks to get results back (I think my last one might have taken only one week and change, but the three or so before that were all two-week waits) if it only takes 20 minutes to process the test? Is it because the free clinics (I don't go there because it's free, I go because it's anonymous) are last in line at the lab?

Re:This is great news (1)

Jenming (37265) | more than 4 years ago | (#31714860)

The 20 minute ones do not have to send anything out to a lab.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Rapid+Oral+HIV+Tests

Re:This is great news (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31716218)

Do they run tests for the other typical stuff such as hepatitis and gonorrea as well? Makes sense to wait till all the tests are complete before informing the tested.

Re:This is great news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712182)

"And that the device doesn't cost a small fortune"

They'll build-in a cheap MP3 player and a cheap touchscreen so they can triple it's price.

Re:This is great news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712848)

And that the device doesn't cost a small fortune means you'll see it in widespread adoption in the first world too.

Because if it did cost a fortune, only people in the third world would be able to afford it.

Re:This is great news (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31713850)

You appear to be confused.

In America, devices such as this are priced higher than existing testing equipement "because they can". It's more convenient, faster and has a better form factor than existing equipement. Setting aside the huge pile of money whomever manufactures/sells this device needs to have to pay insurance companies for when they are sues because of a false positive/negative result, this kind of device is EXACTLY what the patent system is aimed at. You need to gouge the hell out of everybody for 20 years or whatever, then the cloners come in and then everybody has to sell it for some more reasonable markup over manufacturing cost + insurance.

At least they can't do the same shit the pharmacy companies are doing with drug patents, namely patenting formula X to treat Y, then re-patenting X to treat Z, just before the original patent expires. So, it's "legal" for the cloners to produce X to treat Y, but because they can't prevent physicians from using it to also treat Z [for a MUCH more reasonable cost than buying it from the original company], they can't produce it. And they have the balls to complain that they need longer terms for patents to be able to recoup their development costs.

Re:This is great news (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31714770)

I can't even follow your angry logic to tell what you are mad about but I work in an ER and we've used the rapid oral HIV test for some time. A positive result requires an ELISA and a negative result still needs a retest at a future date. There have been no lawsuits as it is clearly just a rapid screen and the patients understand this. It is fairly cheap and much smaller than an iPOD already. This is just a press release masquerading as news.

Re:This is great news (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#31726860)

And not just for the extremely rural areas. It can be used in a doctors office here in the U.S. And that the device doesn't cost a small fortune means you'll see it in widespread adoption in the first world too.

It's not great news; it's great technology.

I live in the developing world and I can tell you that this would be an insanely dangerous device in the hands of the wrong people. HIV/AIDS is only just beginning to touch this very remote country, and the level of superstition and fear surrounding the disease is intense. Having an easy means to test for the disease - without the necessary education and awareness-raising - would almost certainly lead some village leaders to force testing on their entire population.

People who test positive would be subjected to ostracism at best, and possibly to exile or even death.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating, our neighbour Papua New Guinea is struggling with an HIV/AIDS epidemic that is almost completely out of control. The World Health Organisation has said in plain terms that existing medical infrastructure is utterly inadequate to cope with the disease. People's attitudes are such that sufferers are routinely cast out by their villages and families, and end up dying in very short order of easily treated problems like diarrhea and colds.

Great news would be that billions more have been devoted to education, awareness-raising, counselling and primary medical treatment. Then - and only then - having a useful, portable diagnostic tool would be useful and worthwhile.

Result as a tune (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712054)

Will it announce the result by playing a tune ?

Re:Result as a tune (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712134)

Yes, it plays this song [lala.com] .

iPod-sized? (4, Insightful)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712066)

iPod-sized? Really? Which one? nano, mini, classic, touch, ...
How about some real measurement, like a pack of cards or fractions of a VW Beetle?

Re:iPod-sized? (1)

Ziekheid (1427027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712106)

They've sure come a long way since the iPad sized version of the detector..

Re:iPod-sized? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712128)

iPod-sized? Really? Which one? nano, mini, classic, touch, ... How about some real measurement, like a pack of cards or fractions of a VW Beetle?

Smaller than a VW Beetle but larger than an iPod Nano. I think they all come with a pack of cards so you can while away the 10 minutes of waiting.

Re:iPod-sized? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31714148)

iPod-sized? Really? Which one? nano, mini, classic, touch, ...
How about some real measurement, like a pack of cards or fractions of a VW Beetle?

indeed, so how many libararies of congress can fit on this ipod the size of a VW Beetle? wait... what were we talking about again?

Re:iPod-sized? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#31714780)

"How about some real measurement, like a pack of cards or fractions of a VW Beetle?"

Early or late air-cooled, or water-cooled Beetle?

Re:iPod-sized? (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31719456)

The daily Apple story is old fashioned - now we're going for multiple stories everyday.

I thought they were scraping the barrel with yesterday's "Ipad is reshaping the Internet" - now we have the laughable completely irrelevant reference.

Seriously, how much is Apple paying Slashdot for the product placement?

" a California outfit" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712080)

Formerly known as Xerox PARC

Re:" a California outfit" (1)

seither (541838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712218)

aka the birthplace of the iPad

Re:" a California outfit" (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712630)

Yes. I hope that phrase was an attempt at humor rather than an indication of Slashdot editors lack of knowledge about the history of computing.

Soooo... (3, Funny)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712108)

There's an app for that?

Re:Soooo... (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712336)

&gt: "There's an app for that?"

No:

all with a prick of the finger

One prick to catch it, one prick to test for it.

Of course, this could have all been avoided if people didn't have sex Soviet Russia - style:

"In Soviet Russia, prick probes YOU!"

It doesn't matter whether you're straight or gay - Chlamydia, herpes, aids ... they don't discriminate. Use a condom!

Re:Soooo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712666)

Insensitive prick

Re:Soooo... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712370)

And an app for getting AIDS. It's called "fucking Steve Jobs".

If the price is low and reliability is high... (1)

Banichi (1255242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712112)

...with the addition of common STD infection detection capability, I can see these being bought by regular people. Can you imagine what this would do for the STD worries of people involved in "One Night Stands"?

Re:If the price is low and reliability is high... (1)

RsG (809189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712188)

Can you imagine what this would do for the STD worries of people involved in "One Night Stands"?

Won't help very much. You can't tell if you've got an STD a few hours after having sex. It can take days or weeks for a test to come up positive in an infected individual post-exposure, depending on a wide variety of factors. Hell, that applies to any disease, not just the sexual ones.

So, a hypochondriac might want one, purely for peace of mind, but your average person wouldn't be any better off than if they waited for a trip to a clinic. Mind you, and this is purely for STDs not other diseases, complete anonymity for testing could be attractive, for those people who are easily embarrassed.

Re:If the price is low and reliability is high... (2, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712228)

Can you imagine what this would do for the STD worries of people involved in "One Night Stands"?

Won't help very much. You can't tell if you've got an STD a few hours after having sex.

I think the OP was more like "Look at me .. I'm STD free, you're STD free so lets fuck!"

However STD's such as HSV2 are hard to detect at the best of times, so I doubt it would a 100% guarantee

Re:If the price is low and reliability is high... (1)

upuv (1201447) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712286)

In developed countries this tech would most likely be used by individuals to prove they are STD free. Also possibly in the near future to also do an "instant" test for insurance purposes. ( This should be illegal now or soon in US thank god. )

In developing countries it will probably be used by aid agencies. Most likely in conjunction with food, water etc distribution. By screening for disease at aid distribution points you have an excellent means of getting health aid to those that need it.

I will also most likely be used by military to screen personal on a regular basis.

Basically there is a huge market for this stuff.

Re:If the price is low and reliability is high... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712850)

Why should it be illegal? The purpose of insurance is to mitigate the risk of future occurances. If it's already occured than it's pretty much guarenteed that insurance will pay out, so there's no point in having it. I can't buy car insurance on a car that just wrecked. Why should I be able to buy health insurance while I'm bleeding out in the hospital emergency room?

Since I'm disease free and have insurance, all the law will do is make me pay more to treat other people who are frankly a drain on the system. They should have bought insurance while they had the chance.

Re:If the price is low and reliability is high... (3, Interesting)

upuv (1201447) | more than 4 years ago | (#31714194)

Health insurance is not mandatory in most places in the world. Where as car insurance is mandatory in most places in the world. So your car vs health comparison is flawed.

Instant tests would enable the Insurance companies to charge the sick HUGE fees or even reject them all together.

The insurance industry has and continues charge different rates based on genetic history. A classic example of discrimination is this question: "Is there a history of XYZ in your family?".

With instant disease tests as well as genetic biasing you are handing the insurance industry a blank check.

As for Drain on the system? Which system do you speak of? If the insurance industry were bias then less people would be sick? Because that what it sounds like you just said.

So yes the healthy need to help pay for the sick. Quit being so selfish.

So in point form:
Health insurance should be mandatory. ( level of is debatable. )
Cost or even access to health insurance can not be biased by genetic or existing condition. ( AKA the insurance company can not alter fees based on who your are or how healthy you are. )

Re:If the price is low and reliability is high... (1)

anarche (1525323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712512)

Might not help actually diagnose diseases, but when it comes to picking up?

"No babe, I'm completely clean! Ignore that pustulating cold-sore; check out my HIV-clean iPod docking machine!"

Re:If the price is low and reliability is high... (1)

voodoo cheesecake (1071228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712268)

What about for saber toothed crotch crickets? I can see the advantages and it is a step forward, but it needs more development. That kind of research would make all other dirty jobs seem like nothing!

Re:If the price is low and reliability is high... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712490)

Give them a false sense of security?

Hopefully with proper sterilization procedures (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712122)

Don't want to pick up HIV from the last person that got their finger pricked.

Re:Hopefully with proper sterilization procedures (2, Interesting)

tpstigers (1075021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712580)

Holy crap. Really? Do you actually think that someone would use a device to test for HIV without switching the needles? Or, for that matter, would use ANY medical device without switching the needles? We're talking about medical professionals here, not heroin addicts.

Medical professionals uh ... (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31714348)

There are still "Medical Professionals", including doctors, thinking that getting blood in the eyes poses none of little risk for the contraction of HIV; and this aside from the third world. This happens in the high-developed countries.

Ambulanciers and doctors having the wrong thought of its infection vector causing dozens of extra victims with the HIV virus; only because of mis/insufficient information. Maybe aids-prevention should start with getting the right information at the right people whom should care...

Re:Medical professionals uh ... (1)

PSandusky (740962) | more than 4 years ago | (#31714686)

There are still "Medical Professionals", including doctors, thinking that getting blood in the eyes poses none of little risk for the contraction of HIV; and this aside from the third world. This happens in the high-developed countries.

Ambulanciers and doctors having the wrong thought of its infection vector causing dozens of extra victims with the HIV virus; only because of mis/insufficient information. Maybe aids-prevention should start with getting the right information at the right people whom should care...

Speaking as someone who used to handle untested blood donations... in leaky bags and tubes...

Academically, it's widely understood among those at risk that an exposure can transmit HIV. We had annual in-services and "homework assignments" to drive home the point. The problem is one of people not caring about their probability of handling a hot unit/patient/vector. Out of, say, 1500 units of blood to come through on a single collection day, maybe one would come back HIV positive. Maybe. On a rare occasion, two would come back HIV reactive. People generally assumed that HIV-positive patients would not bother going through the rigmarole of donating blood, and multiple coworkers would forgo things like face shields, gloves, and the like because the PPE made them uncomfortable for one reason or another ("The shield gets too hot," or "The gloves make my hands sweat," etc.). The problem wasn't limited to staff, either -- our "impermeable" lab coats were still in service well after their protective coating's operational lives, because management felt that replacing them with new, effective lab coats would be too much of an expenditure. It's as though the HIV lesson has been repeated so many times that people tune it out.

Granted, at the time, it was (and I hope still is) understood that a small, yet persistent population of donors would appear every so often to use blood donation as a free HIV test, because they don't want to go through the normal confirmatory process for reporting to the Department of Health. False names get used. False addresses get recorded. HIV positive blood gets pulled out of the system after my department processes it, but here again, no one in processing expects that they'll be the next lucky contestant to come up on the 1500-chamber game of Russian roulette.

I just finished taking a Medical First Responder course, and I can say that the information is out there -- in the form of, "Always use body substance isolation (BSI) measures." Asking a patient their HIV status straight out of the chute actually opens up legal liability if someone hears it who shouldn't -- God bless HIPAA. Instead, the guidance is to operate under Universal Precautions, and assume that every patient is carrying HIV. So long as people don't get complacent, it's no problem. They're protecting themselves automatically.

Still, failure to verbalize BSI precautions is a critical failure in a verbal exam regarding any MFR (or up!) procedure. And I can tell you, even after that introductory training course, more than one person failed because of BSI.

Re:Hopefully with proper sterilization procedures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31716670)

well, unfortunately for your post, heroin addicts DO sterilize needles. Thank my damned Anthropology teacher for making us read a damned ethnography on them. They usually wash the needles with water, which was proven to be just as effective at getting rid of HIV as getting a new needle. Point of the story? if done properly, reusable needles would drastically lower the cost without requiring an expensive machine or chemicals to do it.

Re:Hopefully with proper sterilization procedures (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31713464)

Well just prick a known-positive person first and the device will be accurate for all other patients as long as it says they're positive.

Finally! (5, Funny)

parc (25467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712124)

Wait, I did WHAT?

Sorry, I've been waiting something like 10 years for this moment...

Re:Finally! (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31718936)

Wait, I did WHAT?

Sorry, I've been waiting something like 10 years for this moment...

Don't feel bad. Most people go their entire lives without accomplishing something like what you pulled off in what I can only assume was a drunken stupor. ;)

am I the only one... (2, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712132)

... who finds it funny that this portable HIV detection device uses a lance?

"Sir, first the good news: you were not HIV positive. Now, the bad: you are now."

I'm sure the lances would be disposable and all, but still.

Re:am I the only one... (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712322)

Maybe not so funny. Remember the VA hospitals that didn't properly sterilize their equipment? [cnn.com]

Re:am I the only one... (1)

Tromad (1741656) | more than 4 years ago | (#31713946)

There is nearly no concern with using disposable lances. They are frequently and safely used for a variety of common lab and consumer tests. Safer than having your blood drawn.

Re:am I the only one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31721450)

Why does an image of a disposable lance attached to a suit of armor on a charger coming at me at full gallop suddenly come to mind.

Comparison to the iPod... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712160)

Its like streaking in a public event: it draws everyones attention immediately, but most people end up simply disgruntled because of the interruption.

Re:Comparison to the iPod... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712248)

Its like streaking in a public event: it draws everyones attention immediately, but most people end up simply disgruntled because of the interruption.

Also, size comparisons.

WTF? (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712174)

I thought iPods caused HIV.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712198)

win

iPod-sized is just a reflex reaction (1)

MattGWU (86623) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712196)

They're going to end up giving to Apple anyway, so might as well describe it in terms they'll be familiar with. This is THAT Palo Alto Research Center, right?? Er...is it, actually?

Re:iPod-sized is just a reflex reaction (1)

Brian Boitano (514508) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712356)

Yeah... why not 'pocket sized' or 'cellphone sized'? Maybe this is an attempt to appeal to today's younger market.

Not an HIV detector (4, Informative)

LoneHighway (1625681) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712262)

This is not an HIV detector, it's a CD4 T-cell counter. If the count is below 250, it is assumed there is an immune system problem which in poor countries is likely caused by HIV. There is already a cheap test for HIV, using a mouth swab.

Re:Not an HIV detector (1)

TamCaP (900777) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712308)

A pocket sized RT-PCR HIV detector would be ultra awesome... but it's yet beyond our reach...

False sense of security? (4, Informative)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712730)

The only problem with this is that only after the disease has matured in the host and taken time to have a noticeable detrimental affect on the immune system, it's a little late in the game. The virus itself can spend months or even years without bringing the immune system down that low. The entire time, the infected host would be able to spread the disease, all while assuming they were 'clean' if they are not properly educated about the exact metric this test uses.

Although this test might serve a simple function of finding people who have almost moved into full blow A.I.D.S, it does not do enough to detect the disease early enough and it does not remove the need for better testing. At most, it's just a general catch all for the very obvious cases (obvious by immune system function). If anything, this would give a false sense of security.

Re:False sense of security? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31716960)

You don't know what you're talking about. An HIV-negative person has around 1200/mL. Shortly after exposure to HIV, if infection is successful, the CD4 count will drop way down during acute HIV infection/seroconversion sickness. After recovery, the CD4 count will rebound, but only to 800/mL. 800 cells/mL is perfectly effective for a normal immune system, but just because opportunistic infections don't take hold doesn't mean the CD4 count isn't impaired.

Re:False sense of security? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31718916)

I'm sorry, but do you seriously believe that the human body follows your HIV flowchart for dummies? This is NOT some simple cold. I've known friends who became positive and were dead within a year. I've also known friends who went for years with a perfectly health immune system (while being positive of course), no need for anti-virals, and perfectly normal blood counts.

Try Googling HIV Nonprogressors.

Re:False sense of security? (1)

BooRolla (824295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717028)

I agree. This half solution isn't as good as my non-solution! Oh wait...

How effective is it? (1)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712304)

What is the detection rate and false positive rate? I can't think a 10 minute check is that accurate considering how long the current methods take. With a disease that still has such a massive stigma as AIDS there could be serious consequences from someone receiving a false positive reading. In developing countries people just need to be taught to use condoms* and otherwise not swap bodily fluids as a general rule. Trying to get the infected in particular to not engage in infection spreading activities is futile as we can't even prevent that in the West (where most people are educated in germ theory). Oh, and also voiding drug patents on AIDS treatments so those millions of people can afford treatment would be an idea.

* And no it isn't the Catholics who are responsible for people not using condoms. The Catholics also tell people not to engage in extra-marital sex, so if someone violates that rule they don't have much excuse to claim that their religious beliefs prevent them wearing a condom..

Newest SI unit (0, Redundant)

NotOverHere (1526201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712328)

On a related release...

NIST just released the newest dimensional measurement.... iPod.

As well as data density... the L.O.C/iPod.

let the court case BEGIN! (1)

ProfessorKaos64 (1772382) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712368)

I know I know, but I couldn't help think of Apple attempting to sue them

Apple commercial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712388)

I guess these days they do anything to get an Apple product word in the "news". Why can't it be "Small size"?

So (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712488)

I'll be buying one of these for my bedroom :D

Oh wait, this is /. etc, etc.

iPod Sized? (1)

babyrat (314371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712524)

Perhaps the term iPod sized used to mean something when there was only one size of iPod. Now, there is the old big one, the mini, the nano, the touch, the shuffle and perhaps more that I am missing.

Call girls use? (1, Flamebait)

cpscotti (1032676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712566)

I can see call girls (or whatever u may call them and the like) having this things to test clients beforehand.. The whole thing will turn into a mad finger drilling paranoia!
Or worse... Picture dads testing their daughter's 15 y.o. boyfriend and saying:
"Are you afraid?! Do you have something to hide?!!!"

Not to mention that I miss using libraries of the congress and needles' heads as spatial units.. now.. an iPod?! that's lame!

For monitoring patients, does not detect HIV (5, Informative)

toppavak (943659) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712590)

It should be clarified that what PARC is announcing is a small flow cytometer [wikipedia.org] used to count T-cells that express the CD4 antigen [wikipedia.org] , a particular subset of T-cells that is most affected by HIV. A dropping concentration of these cells in HIV+ patients' blood is a reasonable metric for the progression of AIDS. It should also be noted that the system PARC demonstrated is not a full-fledged CD4+ T-cell counter, because you also need to measure CD3 expression to tell apart CD4+ T-cells and other white cells that express CD4, like monocytes. Traditional flow cytometers do this by using two antibodies (CD3 and CD4) labelled with different colored fluorescent dyes and measuring the intensity of each color channel using a photomultiplier tube or avalanche photodiode (these are very weak signals!). The PARC prototype is a proof-of-concept that only measures CD4 expression so would very often overestimate the true concentration of CD4+ T-cells in blood.

The interesting thing here is that they've apparently been able to do away with PMTs and APDs as detectors using a method called spatially modulated fluorescence emission. Typically a very narrowly focused laser beam (a few microns or thinner) is used to excite the fluorescent label, so you get precious few photons out of it to detect (hence the need for high-gain detectors like PMTs and APDs). The idea here is to stretch out the excitation region and use a slit pattern to help in background subtraction since you can predict the locations (in time) of the fluorescence signal as it passes by the slits allowing for integration of that signal over a longer period of time with lower background than you would otherwise be able to with a standard photodiode. This also lets you mitigate the loss of bandwidth you'd get by stretching out your detection region since you can figure out which tiny spikes in signal from the photodiode go together based on the known pattern of spacings in the slit and the timings of the peaks.

Very clever! Definitely a lot more interesting than all the cytometer-on-chip microfluidics stuff that's been thrown around since the 80's to no notable success.

Re:For monitoring patients, does not detect HIV (1)

iCantSpell (1162581) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712886)

The parent post is the best damn reply I have ever seen slashdot.

that's crap (1, Troll)

sittingQuietly (935534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31713116)

<quote>A dropping concentration of these cells in HIV+ patients' blood is a reasonable metric for the progression of AIDS.</quote>

translation: a lot of the time it isn't.

which means this machine will be responsible for more of the current tragedy taking place: healthy people are talked into taking poisonous AIDS drugs, the side effects of which will convince they were right to take the drugs. after years of debilitation finally their livers or hearts will fail, and AIDS hacks will call it "AIDS".

think this is crazy? did you know right now in the USA liver failure is the leading cause of AIDS death?

these are hacks. these mainstream scientists. hacks. people need to wake the fk up

Re:that's crap (3, Insightful)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 4 years ago | (#31713192)

did you know right now in the USA liver failure is the leading cause of AIDS death?

Even if that were true, it could easily be astounding evidence of the effectiveness [wikipedia.org] of the AIDS drug cocktail.

(i.e. The patients are living long enough to die to something such as liver failure rather than immunodeficiency-related conditions)

Re:that's crap (2, Informative)

toppavak (943659) | more than 4 years ago | (#31715090)

Its actually kind of true, but for the wrong reason. One of the leading causes of death in AIDS patients is chronic viral hepatitis [wikipedia.org] which destroys the liver. About 80% of cases of liver failure in AIDS patients can be directly attributable to viral hepatitis, although liver disease only accounts for 14% of the total mortality in AIDS patients. Even death due to cardiovascular disease (9% of total mortality in HIV+ patients) have been seen to correlate significantly with CD4+ T-cell count. That's not to say that there is no ART toxicity, but it still improves the survivability of the infection and increases the life expectancy of patients.

That being said, I'm pretty sure you're not going to be able to convince the /.er that feels that all "mainstream" scientists are hacks. Kind of amused he got modded interesting...

Portable is not important, cheap is (2, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712614)

Portable tests are not necessarily what is necessary to make infectious disease detection accessible to the 3rd-world. The main factor is cost, and that is usually addressed with speed and volume. Ex: A molecular diagnostic device could run a 96-well plate of patient samples in about an hour. That's 96 patients per hour as compared with... 6 patients per hour with this device. Now, depending on what this thing costs it might make-up for it, but I highly doubt it.

a prick of the finger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31712648)

*prick* -- good news, no HIV!

*prick* -- good news, no HIV!

*prick* -- sorry, you have HIV.

*prick* -- sorry, now you do too.

Clueless (2, Informative)

joost (87285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712912)

a California outfit called the Palo Alto Research Center

A California outfit? Holy understatement! They invented the mouse and the desktop metaphor! They've been inventing ground-breaking stuff since the sixties!

Re:Clueless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31713426)

Hey I read the title and thought the PRC (People's republic of frickin China) had invented the device.

Sometime it helps to say things almost redundantly.

Re:Clueless (1)

Quietust (205670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31716150)

Indeed, this is the same organization that was originally known as "Xerox PARC".

why the need to compare to ipod (1)

john_uy (187459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31713058)

why is there a need to compare this and that to ipod. reading initially the headline, i though it was an ipod with hiv detection capability. everybody seems to be comparing stuff to apple products. ipod this, ipad that, iphone there, etc.

but i will have to bow to the people at apple for their great marketing. they have successfully made their products the de facto standard for everyone to have.

Now if only anyone knew the size of an iPod... (2, Funny)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31713206)

...except for the fanbois and the advertisers who conveniently snuck that $brandName in there.

Re:Now if only anyone knew the size of an iPod... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31713780)

The Apple fanaticism grew obnoxious a long time ago. What I'm left wondering is what they're all doing on Slashdot since Apple products seem anti-geek to an extreme.

I think I speak for many when I say they're not welcome here. They used to be a funny distraction, but now that they routinely substitute proper analogy with product advertisement they just raise hackles.

Re:Now if only anyone knew the size of an iPod... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31714218)

The article should be called "PARC built a small CD4+ T cell counter" and nobody would read it. And the world would probably be a little happier

Doesn't address the real problem... (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 4 years ago | (#31715740)

The problem of the AIDS epidemic is societal, not medical. AIDS is spread because people cannot think beyond the immediate consequences of their actions, and choose to ignore caution in favor of getting "that feeling". If you can't get society to do something as simple as using a condom, what good is it to tell them they've been infected afterward? Do we really expect them to refrain from sex now, when they couldn't/wouldn't before, even when they knew there was a risk of death, and chose to ignore it?

The people who would likely benefit from knowing a partner's HIV status are the kind of people who do long term thinking - IOW, are thinking of marriage or a long term relationship, and are the least likely to be spreading HIV. While I applaud anything that makes medicine less expensive, this device alone is not going to dent the AIDS epidemic. As Uganda has shown (with a 40% drop in infection rate), changing societal behavior is far more effective at curbing the spread of HIV.

A California outfit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31716028)

"...a California outfit called the Palo Alto Research Center..."

Please, give them their due. This is a research lab with a long and venerable history, not some flash-in-the-pan Silicon Valley startup.

here in Brasil... (1)

ammai (1606815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31717198)

here in Brasil[know as a third country] we have in the almost all the cities, even small ones, places where we can do AIDS test for free, It is possible to know the result in about 30 minutes. There is now a project where people can send samples of blood by mail.

psychologic impact? (1)

AlgorithMan (937244) | more than 4 years ago | (#31719598)

I'm quite worried about this device, because - imagine you'd learn you are HIV positive this way... wouldn't you break down and possibly try to commit suicide or so? when doctors tell you that you have a deadly, uncurable disease, they offer psychological help and such.
It's not like someone shows around his new gadget on a party and "WHOA! YOU'RE GONNA DIE SOON!"

Name dropping (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31720056)

If this isn't.. i don't know what is..

What happened to the terms 'hand held', or 'pocket sized'.. Or is that so 80's to be 1/2 way descriptive?

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