Researchers of Washington state university has developed a low-cost portable smartphone laboratory that is capable of detecting 12 common bacterial and viral infections with 97 to 99 percent accuracy. This new device is found to be work nearly similar to clinical laboratories. The new device is small and is just about the size of the hand. The team spent $50 for buying the components of the device, and if it is manufactured on a large scale, the price will further come down. The design and implementation of the study were carried by Lei Li, assistant professor in collaboration with Ping Wang, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Peruvian school of medicine.
Even today, with the advancement of technology, in the field of health, still there are remote areas where the accessibility of the doctor or a physician is limited. Take the case of rural areas, where people need to carry the patient for long distances amounting to kilometres for a doctor. Even if the doctor is available, he must rely on the patient’s symptoms and in some cases the colour of the samples to confirm infection. Later, if they send the sample to laboratories located in the far away cities, it may take few days to have the result. But, by that time, the infection aggravates and leads to the death of the patients in the majority of cases. The new portable smartphone reader overcomes all the barriers and offers results with utmost accuracy. The mechanism behind the functioning of the device is straightforward. The smartphone reader takes a picture of 96 sample wells at a time and analyses them using a software based on the colour of the samples.
To test the efficiency of the device, the researchers analysed the samples of 771 patients at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. For the study, they diagnosed 12 common bacterial and viral infections that included herpes, measles, mumps and Lyme disease. Out of the total analysed 771 samples the device gave false positives in only one percent of the time. The portable device comes in handy particularly in areas of limited accessibility of medical equipment. The device not only saves time but also drastically reduces the diagnostic costs compared to the lab tests.The team has already filed a patent and are looking forward to conducting clinical trials.
The experimental research is published in the journal Clinica Chimica Acta.