It is an invention that should be hailed among doctors treating AIDS, and their patients.
About 10 to 20 percent of AIDS victims are resistant to drugs used in treating them. In other words the strain of HIV affecting them has developed some mutation or genetic change that prevents them from being subdued with anti-AIDS drugs.
Such strains multiply rapidly and make the carrier more prone to develop AIDS, and harder to treat.
Currently the tests that are used to detect drug resistant strains of HIV are not only few, and not that very efficient.
According to scientists Feng Gao and others of the Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina, US, who published their findings in Nature Methods, they have devised a device that is so sensitive to viral mutations or drug resistant strains that they pick up a single mutated virus among 10,000 non-mutated ones.
There are about 30 well-established mutations that make HIV strains resistant to the around 20 drug used to treat AIDS.
The present tests require the total resistant viral count or load to reach 20 percent before they can be identified. When this happens the chance of treating the patient effectively goes down drastically. Meanwhile the doctor would have wasted precious time treating the patient with drugs that do not work.
According to Roger Pebody, treatment specialist for the Terrence Higgins Trust, "If this research leads to a simpler and more easily used resistance test, it will improve treatment outcomes for people living with HIV."