The London Centre for Nanotechnology will develop a new device to enable people living with HIV to monitor their own health and the effectiveness of their treatments, thanks to a 2 million EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) grant announced today.
The device will give people a way to monitor the virus for themselves, reducing the need to visit a doctor as often. It will act as an early warning system to tell patients to seek medical help if the virus is resisting anti-retroviral treatments. It could also be of real benefit to doctors in developing countries who urgently need rapid and affordable ways to diagnose and monitor their patients.
Researchers from the London Centre for Nanotechnology, a joint venture between UCL (University College London) and Imperial College London, and their research partners have been awarded the Nanotechnology for Healthcare grant from the EPSRC's Grand Challenge Competition.
The research will bring biomedical engineers, physicists, chemists, virologists and clinicians together to create the device, which will work in a similar way to how diabetics check their insulin levels - where a hand-held machine analyses a finger prick of blood.
The device will use tiny mechanical sensors, called nano-cantilever arrays, to measure HIV and other protein markers that can indicate a rise in the level of the virus and the body's response to it.
UCL lead investigator Dr Rachel McKendry, Reader in Biomedical Nanoscience at the LCN, explains: "The nano-cantilever arrays are each coated with substances that stick to the HIV and other proteins, which are markers associated with disease progression. Accommodating these markers causes the highly sensitive sensors to bend like a diving board and this bend indicates the level of virus in the body. We have used nano-cantilever arrays to investigate drug resistance in super bugs, and are excited by the opportunity to extend this appro
|Contact: Dr Thierry Bontoux|
University College London