Technology has proven itself as a major way to make life better as a group of US researchers have come up with a palm-sized device that when connected to a smartphone can diagnose Human Immune Deficiency Virus – HIV and syphilis with good accuracy.
The new smartphone dongle, which can test blood samples for HIV and syphilis in about 15 minutes, could save millions of lives across the world, scientists claim.
According to the researchers, the device is dependent on a Smartphone’s audio jack to mimick the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), a well-known test for HIV, and “performs almost as well.”
The success of the dongle is a follow up on an initial study, involving about 96 women in Rwanda, published in Science Translational Medicine journal.
However, experts have expressed hope that the lab-on-a-chip device would be helpful, especially in places where field clinics are set up to help remote or under-served populations.
The team, led by Samuel Sia, Associate Professor of biomedical engineering, Columbia University and a NASA Launch innovator, is aiming for larger clinical trials to confirm the device’s capacity.
Speaking on the innovation, the engineer said: “Our work shows that a full laboratory-quality immunoassay can be run on a smartphone accessory.
“Coupling microfluidics with recent advances in consumer electronics can make certain lab-based diagnostics accessible to almost any population with access to smartphones. This kind of capability can transform how health care services are delivered around the world”.
The study was funded by a Saving Lives at Birth transition grant — which is backed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Gates Foundation, the government of Norway, Grand Challenges Canada, the World Bank and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation.
The device is currently on sale for N6,000 ($34) – nearly 540 times cheaper than current lab testing machines, and has already been tested on patients in Rwanda during a pilot study.
Other countries in Africa including Nigeria, European and Asian countries, anticipate its introduction soonest when passed for public use.
Source: The Nation