Microfluidics tackles HIV

In recognition of World AIDS Day today, here’s a highlight of some of the microfluidics work addressing HIV. In particular, Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology professor Utkan Demirci has published several recent papers on using microfluidics for HIV, in addition to work from the Toner lab, Rodriguez lab, Whitesides lab and others.

Using microfluidics for point-of-care CD4 counts in HIV

Because CD4 lymphocytes are the main targets of HIV, CD4 counts are used to aid in diagnosis, in staging, in informing treatment decisions, and in assessing treatment efficacy. Currently CD4 counts are typically performed using flow cytometry, which may not be available in resource-limited settings. Demirci and others have been exploring how microfluidics might enable simple, cost-effective methods of performing CD4 counts.

  • Rapid automated cell quantification on HIV microfluidic devices (2009)

  • Enhancing the performance of a point-of-care CD4+ T-cell counting microchip through monocyte depletion for HIV/AIDS diagnostics (2009)

  • CD4+ T-Lymphocyte Capture Using a Disposable Microfluidic Chip for HIV (2007) (Video)

  • A Microchip CD4 Counting Method for HIV Monitoring in Resource-Poor Settings (2005)(Free full text!)

Using microfluidics for point-of-care HIV diagnosis

In addition, the Demirci lab is also exploring how microfluidic systems could be used for point-of-care detection of the virus itself via capture and labeling using the gp120 glycoprotein.

  • Quantum dot-based HIV capture and imaging in a microfluidic channel (2009)

These technologies are still in the research phase, but it would be fantastic if they could eventually make a difference in the fight against AIDS.