Smartphone lab attachment detects HIV, syphilis

click to enlargeStarting in 2010, your Editors have been writing about the work of UCLA’s Aydogan Ozcan and associates in miniaturizing microscopes (LUCAS) and labs that clip directly on smartphones. Examples: assaying food for allergy-inducing ingredients with the iTube [TTA 13 Dec 12] and accessories that run ‘analysis on a chip’ [21 Jan 13]. Columbia University researchers have now devised and tested a palm-sized device using microfluidics to run initial tests on HIV and syphilis with results in 15 minutes. It was tested on pregnant women in Rwanda, according to a study published this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Both diseases are prevalent among expectant mothers, where the danger during birth is transmission to the child. It is also cheap at $34/unit and to administer the test requires minimal training, making it ideal for developing countries. They also presage, like Dr Ozcan’s devices, a new generation of mini-labs and Dr Topol’s (quoted) vision of the Doctorless Patient. The PBS NewsHour coverage is unusually detailed for a consumer article.

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