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Cytometry for Life – Changing Lives Through Low-Cost Diagnostics

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The Cytometry for Life (C4L) program aims to lessen the burden of HIV/AIDS in areas most impacted, through the provision of affordable and accessible tools for CD4 level testing among AIDS patients, with an emphasis on rural or remote communities in resource-constrained regions. Using mature technology, Cytometry for Life’s CD4 T–lymphocyte testing device is designed to be portable, reliable, and operate on battery power. The C4L testing device costs about US $5,000, and will operate at a greatly reduced per test cost of 50 US cents.

Why Cytometry for Life?

CD4 testing using flow cytometry techniques is a critical component of the AIDS treatment process in terms of identifying candidates to receive life-saving therapy, as well as on-going monitoring of disease progression. Unfortunately, in areas most impacted by HIV/AIDS, such as the African continent, CD4 testing procedures are often plagued by inconvenient time lags, inconsistent results and high costs. The former UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Stephen Lewis, has been a major proponent of the movement to make CD4 testing “portable” and “easy to use” so as to mitigate the AIDS epidemic in Africa. During May 2006, Lewis issued a challenge to experts in the field of cell analysis at the 2006 International Society for Analytical Cytology (ISAC) Congress, held in Quebec, to create a solution to flow cytometers that are “bulky, difficult to use, at about $50,000 each, vastly out of reach of most of the continent” (Nature Medicine 2006;12(10):1107).

The Cytometry for Life (C4L) Program was created in response to this urgent call-to-action by Stephen Lewis. The innovative design of C4L’s low-cost, portable and battery operated CD4 testing device grew out of an initial partnership between scientist J. Paul Robinson, (President of the International Society for Analytical Cytology and SVM Professor of Cytomics at Purdue University) and engineer, Gary Durack, (president of iCyt Visionary Biosciences, of Urbana, Illinois). C4L team members have recently traveled to 6 African countries to identify phase 1 target areas and conduct situation analysis. The team sought to understand current CD4 testing problems in the field, as well as the qualities and characteristics of a CD4 testing program that would be necessary to optimize antiretroviral treatment (ART) roll-out programs.

C4L Director Dr. J. Paul Robinson, C4L Scientific Advisor Dr. Gilbert L. Rochon and C4L Research Coordinator Hildred S. Rochon of Purdue University, Nigerian National C4L Coordinator Prince Ikenna Nwaturuocha meeting with Nigerian Senate President the Honorable Ken Nnamani and other dignitaries, Abuja, Nigeria, March 2007.

Changing Lives Through Low-Cost Diagnostics

A video introduction to the Cytometry for Life Program. Also available on disc 2.

Please consider how you can get involved.

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Donate your time, expertise or help link C4L with funding opportunities. The field of cytometry is in the forefront of the struggle against the global AIDS epidemic. Let’s combine our efforts to ensure that all human beings have affordable access to CD4 testing and are no longer prevented from acquiring life-saving antiretroviral therapy treatment.

Contribute to C4L today!