06 February 2015

Smartphone Can Diagnose HIV For Just 15 Minutes

This is a great news! For the first time in the history of science and mankind, a team of researchers at Columbia Engineering in the US replicates all the mechanical, optical, and electronic functions of a lab-based blood test to specifically diagnose HIV and Syphilis in just 15 minutes using low-cost smartphone accessory. Yes, all you need is this smartphone and a some blood!

Led researcher Samuel K. Sia and his team of biomedical engineers has developed a low-cost smartphone that can perform point-of-care test that can detects HIV and Syphilis (Both infectious diseases) from a singel finger prick of blood in just way 15 minutes.

According to Columbia Engineering's post, the device replicates all the mechanical, optical, and electronic functions of a lab-based blood test.

The device specifically works by performing an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) that can detect three antibodies namely: HIV Antibody, treponemal-specific antibody for syphilis, and non-treponemal antibody for active syphilis infection — without using any stored energy, all necessary power is required only from the smartphone it is attached to.

Image courtesy of Samiksha Nayak for Columbia Engineering
A small device that easily connects to a smartphone or computer  — that Sia has developed — was recently piloted by health care workers in Rwanda who tested whole blood obtained via a finger prick from 96 patients who were enrolling into prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission clinics or voluntary counseling and testing centers.
“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." ~ says Sia.
Image: Tassaneewan Laksanasopin, Columbia Engineering
Sia and his team want to build miniaturizing diagnostics hardware for rapid diagnosis of HIV, syphilis, and other STDs.
“We know that early diagnosis and treatment in pregnant mothers can greatly reduce adverse consequences to both mothers and their babies,” Sia notes.
The team developed the dongle to be small and light enough to fit into one hand, and to run assays on disposable plastic cassettes with pre-loaded reagents, were disease-specific zones provided an objective read-out, much like an ELISA assay.

IT is estimated to have a manufacturing cost of $34 lower than typical ELSA equipment that is $18,450.00

Sia also noted that their dongle presents wide range of new features among users and health care providers.

“Our dongle presents new capabilities for a broad range of users, from health care providers to consumers. By increasing detection of syphilis infections, we might be able to reduce deaths by 10-fold. And for large-scale screening where the dongle’s high sensitivity with few false negatives is critical, we might be able to scale up HIV testing at the community level with immediate antiretroviral therapy that could nearly stop HIV transmissions and approach elimination of this devastating disease.”
The study was funded by Saving Lives at Birth transition grant (USAID, Gates Foundation, Government of Norway, Grand Challenges Canada, and the World Bank) and Wallace H. Coulter Foundation.


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