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Company Develops CD4+ Blood Test For Use In Developing Countries

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CD4+ Blood Test

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Fullerton, Calif.-based Beckman Coulteris taking part in an international initiative to develop a type ofblood test that can be used widely in developing countries to measure aperson's CD4+ T cell count, the Orange County Register reports. The initiative -- which has received an $8.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- aims to create "simple finger-prick tests" to measure CD4+ counts. It is based at Imperial College London,which last year sought ideas from researchers worldwide on how todevelop tests to measure the CD4+ counts of people living in areaswithout electricity. Beckman Coulter, which usually makes laboratoryequipment, was one of four organizations this year to receive grantsunder the initiative. The other grants went to researchers at Zyomyx, Cornell University and the Barret Institute.

According to the Register,Beckman Coulter has begun work on a dipstick-style test strip that willdraw blood upward to measure the concentration of a person's CD4+cells. The device must be able to tell doctors if a person has a CD4+count below 250 -- the level at which HIV-positive people typicallybegin antiretroviral therapy.

The device also must be usable andaccurate even in areas without electricity and when stored inwarehouses where the temperatures can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit.Each test also should cost $3 or less. The initiative's deadline is2011, but officials at Imperial College are encouraging researchers tofinish by 2010. Researchers from all four organizations met last monthat Cornell to share information that could aid the other researchteams, according to the Register. Each organization willkeep the rights to any discoveries made during the research processunder the terms of the grant (Stewart, Orange County Register, 7/26).

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