Lab Chip 2013 Jul;13(14):2731-48
Biomedical Diagnostic Institute, National Centre for Sensor Research, School of Physical Sciences, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland.
Modern advancements in pharmaceuticals have provided individuals who have been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) with the possibility of significantly extending their survival rates. When administered sufficiently soon after infection, antiretroviral therapy (ART) allows medical practitioners to control onset of the symptoms of the associated acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Active monitoring of the immune system in both HIV patients and individuals who are regarded as "at-risk" is critical in the decision making process for when to start a patient on ART. A reliable and common method for such monitoring is to observe any decline in the number of CD4 expressing T-helper cells in the blood of a patient. However, the technology, expertise, infrastructure and costs to carry out such a diagnostic cannot be handled by medical services in resource-poor regions where HIV is endemic. Addressing this shortfall, commercialized point-of-care (POC) CD4 cell count systems are now available in such regions. A number of newer devices will also soon be on the market, some the result of recent maturing of charity-funded initiatives. Many of the current and imminent devices are enabled by microfluidic solutions, and this review will critically survey and analyze these POC technologies for CD4 counting, both on-market and near-to-market deployment. Additionally, promising technologies under development that may usher in a new generation of devices will be presented.