US disease centre taps Melbourne company for Internet HIV test

Melbourne-based neuroscience specialist CogState has signed a bulk-use deal for its computer-based cognitive test for HIV patients with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.CogState chief executive officer Dr Peter Bick said the Internet-based tool could be used by CDC to spot early signs of HIV-related dementia in patients.

Melbourne-based neuroscience specialist CogState has signed a bulk-use deal for its computer-based cognitive test for HIV patients with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.

CogState chief executive officer Dr Peter Bick said the Internet-based tool could be used by CDC to spot early signs of HIV-related dementia in patients. The value of the deal is US$21,000.

The cognitive test is a 15 minute computerised test that can be downloaded from the Internet for AU$25 per test. It presents 300 culturally non-specific "playing cards" that a person can answer in 12 to 15 minutes. The file created is then e-mailed to CogState's Web server, analysed through an algorithm and then sent back in a few seconds for the result.

The test analyses things such as reaction time, memory, attention span and issues a statement on how the person's brain is functioning.

Bick said that with the computerised test, the CDC will be able to detect whether the HIV patient is suffering from a brain infection and if the infection is caused by the virus or a drug treatment.

"It is hard to overstate the importance of this win for the company because the US government agencies are obligated to first review US products. In searching for a best tool to accurately measure changes in brain function (cognition) over time, and which had no cultural or language bias, the CDC chose CogState, demonstrating to the world that our technology is superior to anything available in the US," Bick said.

He encouraged people who have HIV to download the test and take it every couple of months to detect signs of dementia at an early stage.

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