How can we slow the spread of HIV and lower the risk of AIDS?
The Public Health Challenge
Currently, there are about 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the USA, and about 56,300 people become newly infected with HIV each year. The most effective approach to slowing the spread of disease is to connect HIV infected people to treatment early, and optimize the treatment efficiency for each individual patient. This requires that HIV infected people have regular access to blood tests that measure CD4 T cell count and HIV-RNA viral load.
These tests are invasive (a large blood draw), expensive ($163) and results are not available until the next visit, usually in 4-6 months. Because of the high cost, and the need for laboratory infrastructure and highly trained personnel, these tests are not typically available in low-resource community clinics where most people living with HIV/AIDS seek help. As a consequence, many HIV infected people do not start treatment when needed, or do not receive an optimal treatment.
Our Technology as the Solution
In response to this need, our goal is to develop a noninvasive rapid test suitable for monitoring HIV/AIDS patients in low-resource community clinics. The test will be based on Stress Response Profiling (SRP) biomarkers in saliva, a new patent-pending technology developed by our company. Currently we are performing clinical studies in collaboration with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in Los Angeles. The work is sponsored by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research at NIH. These studies will deliver a validated panel of saliva biomarkers for detecting response to treatment by combination anti-retroviral drugs. Selected biomarkers will be used to develop a commercial test for AIDS monitoring in 3 to 5 years. The test will be a simple hand-held device similar to the home pregnancy test. The test will be pain-free, affordable, and suitable for use in community clinics or self-testing at home. The test result will indicate HIV progression to AIDS. This result will be useful for deciding whether an HIV-infected person should start taking anti-HIV drugs, or modify the current drug prescription because it is not working well. The new test will slow the spread of HIV by connecting AIDS patients to care early and helping to personalize their HIV treatment.