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Florida Atlantic University Wins $1.3M NIH Grant to Develop Sample-to-Answer HIV Self-Test

NEW YORK — Florida Atlantic University said on Thursday that it has been awarded a three-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop an automated self-testing assay for HIV infection.

With the funding, university researchers aim to develop a sample-to-answer, disposable microfluidic chip that integrates molecular amplification to detect HIV in whole-blood samples during acute infection, treatment, and viral rebound. The chip is expected to provide results within 40 minutes and not require refrigeration, enabling its use in resource-poor settings.

Once developed, the chip will be evaluated using blood and plasma samples from over 200 HIV-infected individuals, FAU said. Depending on initial results from the project, the university said it could receive an additional $1.3 million for further R&D.

"No molecular HIV self-testing technologies have yet been commercialized that are able to detect HIV during the early stages of acute infection or viral rebound in suppressed patients on antiretroviral therapy, and there is an urgent need to develop reliable and affordable HIV self-testing technologies," Stella Batalama, dean of FAU's college of engineering and computer science, said in a statement. "The technology that is being developed … will be a game changer for helping to increase access to HIV testing and for improving treatment outcomes."

Collaborators of the grant include the University of Virginia and University of Pennsylvania.