Today, doctors can be forced to wait on test results for weeks or even months before being able to diagnose a patient with HIV.
Martin Hedström, a doctor in Biotechnology at The Faculty of Engineering at Lund University (LTH), who has been active in the development of the device, thinks that early detection is vital.
“It means that you potentially can combat the spread of the disease and also start treating the patient early on, which can have a huge benefits for the patient,“ he said.
It has taken scientists twenty years to develop the device, which is small enough to fit in a shoebox.
The equipment can detect extremely small amounts of toxins, virus or other contaminants in liquids and could therefore potentially be used to expose any acts of bio terrorism.
It could also be used for testing water supplies in the third world and combat the spread of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
The device will now be developed further to detect multi-resistant bacteria in patients.
Scientists believe that the new device could be developed to deliver an answer within fifteen minutes. Today it can take a day before test results show if a patient is carrying the bacteria or not.
“In some cases this delay can mean that the patient dies, and medical costs as well as the suffering of the patient increases if treatment isn’t started as soon as possible,” Bo Mattiason of the LTH told Sveriges Radio (SR).
The new Swedish invention has caught the eye of the world’s toughest watchdog for drugs and medical equipment, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is due to test the device in the autumn.