Saturday 28 February 2015

Lab on a Chip Turns Smart Phones Into Mobile Disease Clinics

A Device – Easy to Use Smartphone – Test Multiple Diseases

Early detection of any infectious disease is a very important public health issue and the development from web and mobile based communication together with novel bio-molecular detections abilities have come up with regards to public health infrastructure.

Progress in communications, computation and materials had given rise to new technologies like mobile phones and microfluidic chips. A cheap device has been created by researchers from U.S. and Rwandan, who have been making progress in designing cheap, easy to use smartphone attachments which could test patients for multiple dangerous infectious diseases within fifteen minutes. In the present world, smart phone have been paying up bills, tracking diets as well as recording our sleep and soon they will be utilised in the global fight against the various diseases with researcher making headway in this field.

A drop of blood is all that is needed from a finger prick of the person and on pressing the device’s big black button would create a vacuum that can suck the blood into a maze of tiny channels in its disposable cartridge which is the size of a credit card.

Functions – Lab Based Blood Test

Several detection areas trace any antibodies in the blood which could reveal the presence of a certain disease. It needs a little bit of power of the smartphone which helps in detecting and displaying the results of a disease. The team states that an iPod Touch has the potential of screening 41 patients on a single charge. A field test was conducted by the researchers of the device at three Community clinics at Rwandan where the health care workers screened ninety six patients for HIV and active and latent forms of syphilis.

A Lab on a chip could turn smart phones into mobile disease clinics and HIV and syphilis can now be detected in minutes with the use of cheap lab on chip device. The dongle being small and light, can be easily connected to a smartphone or a computer for the required power and the device provides the test results on the phone screen in fifteen minutes, instead of the two or more hours with the prevailing method.It is similar to all the functions of a lab based blood test and works by detecting antibody markers of any infectious diseases.

High Sensitivity & Ease of Use – Powerful Tool

On comparing with the gold standard laboratory tests, the team’s online report in Science Translational Medicine stated that the dongle was ninety six percent accurate in detecting infections, missing one case of latent syphilis. Inspite of a 14% false alarm rate, the researcher state that the device’s high sensitivity and ease of use makes it a powerful tool for diagnosing deadly diseases especially in the case of pregnant women.

They are now making progress in preparing a large scale trial for the $34 device which probably would enable mobile clinics and health workers with reliable and quick disease screening especially in the remote locations of the globe. Detecting a disease in time helps in timely diagnosis and treatment which could be helpful in early recovery from the ailment. Timely detection of the infection of those that are not common or have not been diagnosed in certain areas could be more vital.

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