A team of researchers have developed a low-cost smartphone accessory that can perform a test that simultaneously detects three infectious diseases from a finger prick of blood in just 15 minutes.
The device replicates, for the first time, all mechanical, optical, and electronic functions of a lab-based blood test. All its necessary power is drawn from the smartphone. It performs a triplexed immunoassay not currently available in a single test format: HIV antibody, treponemal-specific antibody for syphilis, and non-treponemal antibody for active syphilis infection.
Research leader Samuel K. Sia is an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering.
“Our work shows that a full laboratory-quality immunoassay can be run on a smartphone accessory,” says Sia. “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.”
Sia estimates the dongle will have a manufacturing cost of $34, which is a huge improvement on the $18,450 needed to run the regular equipment.
This new accessory may help with stopping the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.