Weinheim, Germany. November 24, 2015. According to UN estimates, approximately 37 million people worldwide have the AIDS virus HIV in their blood. The majority of them live in rural areas of Africa and Asia, cut off from medical care. Nevertheless, prompt diagnosis is important to treat those affected and to effectively contain the further spread of the virus. An inexpensive, portable mini-lab is making it possible to carry out rapid health checks on the ground. Freudenberg Medical has specially developed components for this mobile lab.
HIV infection leads to an AIDS-related illness after an incubation period of varied length, usually several years. The virus weakens the immune system and makes victims vulnerable to infection. Mostly, the time between initial infection and the appearance of serious symptoms is long. This is why many people infected with HIV are unaware of their condition. As a result, they can spread the virus further without being aware that they are doing so.
With the help of a so-called "lab on a chip", medically trained personnel can go from village to village in affected areas performing rapid tests. They do this by taking a blood sample from the fingertip and feeding it into the unit for analysis. The patient's blood flows through a hose specially developed by Freudenberg Medical.
"As with all our products, we manufacture this hose from a special silicone. This material meets medical standards and has extensive approvals for use in patient care", explained Dr. Dieter Pfeifle, responsible for in-vitro-diagnostic applications at Freudenberg Medical Europe. "We set our own standards for the inner and outer diameters of the tubes, which go beyond what is usual in the market."
In this specific case, an exact hose length is needed: The chip needs a certain amount of blood, which is drawn by vacuum pressure. Length and diameter of the hose assure that the study results are not distorted by too much or too little blood. To ensure optimal product quality, Freudenberg Medical has developed an automated cutting and inspection process. "Our strength lies in individually meeting customer requirements for particularly sensitive applications", said Pfeifle.
The test analysis indicates not only whether the AIDS virus is present in the blood, but also provides information on how far the immunodeficiency has progressed. So even with limited resources, aid organizations can decide whether immediate treatment is necessary. Around 8 million units of the mini-lab are produced annually. "We are proud to be making a small contribution to the fight against HIV with our products", Pfeifle commented.
About Freudenberg Medical
Freudenberg Medical is a leading global manufacturer of components for medical devices, complex catheter systems for minimally-invasive surgery and total solutions for the biotech, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Freudenberg Medical provides custom manufacturing services for medical devices, components, and subassemblies – from medical grade silicone or technical thermoplastic single components to turnkey contract manufacturing. In addition to its custom manufacturing operations, Freudenberg Medical also manufactures and markets the HelixMark® brand of platinum-cured silicone tubing and fluid handling components for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. The medical device division called InHealth Technologies develops and manufactures Blom-Singer™ voice restoration products that are distributed worldwide. In 2014, Freudenberg Medical generated sales of around €116 million from its sites in Asia, the USA and Central America as well as Europe with a workforce of some 1,000 employees. The Business Group runs ten medical manufacturing operations.
About the Freudenberg Group
Freudenberg is a global technology group that strengthens its customers and society long-term through forward-looking innovations. Together with its partners, customers and the world of science, the Freudenberg Group develops leading-edge technologies, and excellent products, solutions and services for more than 30 market segments and for thousands of applications: seals, vibration control components, nonwovens, filters, specialty chemicals, medical and mechatronic products, IT services and the most modern cleaning products.
Innovation strength, strong customer orientation, diversity and team spirit are the cornerstones of our Group. Commitment to excellence, reliability and pro-active, responsible action belong to the company's core values lived for more than 165 years.
In 2014, the Freudenberg Group employed over 40,000 people in some 60 countries worldwide and generated sales of more than 7 billion Euros (including pro-rata consolidation of 50:50 joint ventures). For more information, please visit www.freudenberg.com