New Technology Could Transform HIV Treatment in Developing World

Read the blog post that inspired this case study on the Innovate4Health website.

Some of the most important breakthrough products and processes of our time have been made possible, in large part, because of strong intellectual property and patent systems. Keep reading to learn more about an innovative, patented technology that could transform HIV treatment for those most in need.

Who: DNA Electronics (DNAe)


Over the past several decades, substantial technological advances have made important improvements in HIV treatment and monitoring. While these innovations have improved efficacy, many of the technologies are costly, cumbersome and/or require specialized training and infrastructure, which makes them inaccessible to many of the world’s most vulnerable populations. Further complicating the situation, HIV patients require constant monitoring to ensure treatments remain effective, as HIV can become resistant to anti-retroviral therapy (ART).


To make potentially life-saving HIV technologies more accessible, DNAe developed a new patented technology to better serve patients in resource-limited and rural settings.

How It Works:

Invented by engineer and DNA Electronics founder Christofer Toumazou, DNAe’s Ion Sensitive Field Effect Transistors (ISFETs) detect subtle changes to blood pH caused by the presence of HIV, which changes the electrical state of the microchip embedded in the testing technology.

“Our mission is to bring dramatic, life-changing improvements to healthcare and beyond with fast, simple and scientifically sound products.”

 – Professor Christofer Toumazou, Founder of DNA Electronics

How It Addresses Current Testing Challenges:  

  • Reduced Size: DNAe has packaged the entire testing platform in a USB stick, which allows for portability and untethers the testing process from the lab. As a result, patients no longer have to travel to urban centers for ART monitoring.
  • Easy to Perform: USB testing reduces complexity of implementation and the need for extensive training to perform the tests.
  • Faster Results: With current technology, it can take days to perform tests and process accurate results, which can be a major burden for those who have to travel to testing centers. The ISFET technology produces accurate results in 20 minutes.
  • Lower Costs: Streamlined and easy-to-administer testing, portability and rapid results means lower costs for patients and health systems, alike.

This breakthrough technology has the potential to bring about significant and meaningful change for HIV patients around the world. Intellectual property rights have played a critical role in securing more than $70 million in investment, which fueled the research and development that brought this innovation to life. It’s vital that strong intellectual property systems are protected to help bring potentially life-saving inventions, such as DNAe’s ISFET technology, to those in need.