The Northwestern Global Health Foundation, a non-profit biotech company co-founded by CIFAR Fellow Daniel Diermeier in the Institutions, Organizations and Growth program, with colleagues from Northwestern University, has developed a new HIV test for babies in Africa that will be trialed in Mozambique. The new test is the first product developed by the Foundation, which recently received the “Up-and-Comer” award at the 2012 Chicago Innovation Awards held on October 22, 2012.
“Unlike the conventional HIV test used in Africa that takes three months for results, this new test will provide a diagnosis within an hour,” says Dr. Diermeier.
If an infection is detected, the child will receive life-saving treatment right away. Infants who are not treated usually die within one or two years.
The test, which is 95 per cent accurate, detects low levels of a protein called p24 that is made by the HIV virus. The test is inexpensive and can be completed by a community health care worker as opposed to a lab technician, making it accessible to impoverished communities.
The first clinical trial to test infants born to HIV-positive mothers, will soon begin in five clinics in the capital city of Mozambique. Trials will then move into rural clinics and eventually into nine other countries. This exciting new research has the potential to transform the way communities tackle the wide-spread HIV epidemic.