Nav: Home

Researchers use smart phone to make a faster infection detector

April 24, 2018

PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State University researchers have developed a low-cost, portable laboratory on a phone that works nearly as well as clinical laboratories to detect common viral and bacterial infections.

The work could lead to faster and lower-cost lab results for fast-moving viral and bacterial epidemics, especially in rural or lower-resource regions where laboratory equipment and medical personnel are sometimes not readily available.

Led by Lei Li, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, they have published their work in the journal, Clinica Chimica Acta. Collaboration with Ping Wang, associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, enabled the design and implementation of the key clinical validation study.

Symptoms, judgment, waiting

In rural or underserved areas, doctors sometimes must rely on a patient's symptoms or use their own judgement in looking at test sample color results to determine whether a patient has an infection. As expected, this process is often inaccurate. If they send results off to a lab in a distant city, the doctors sometimes must wait for days -- by which time the infection may have become widespread. Most existing mobile health diagnostic devices, meanwhile, can only analyze one sample at a time.

Smartphone vs. lab tests

The WSU researchers found that their portable smartphone reader worked nearly as well as standard lab testing in detecting 12 common viral and bacterial infectious diseases, such as mumps, measles, herpes, and Lyme Disease. The researchers tested the device, which is about the size of a hand, with 771 patient samples at Hospital of University of Pennsylvania and found that it provided false positives only about one percent of the time (was 97. to 99.9 percent accurate).

The smartphone reader, which includes a portable device, takes a photo of 96 sample wells at once and uses a computer program to carefully analyze color to determine positive or negative results.

"This smartphone reader has the potential to improve access and speed up healthcare delivery," said Li. "If we find out about infections, we can treat them more quickly, which makes a difference especially in low-resource, remote areas."

Low-cost components

Buying the components themselves, the research team was able to build the device for about $50, but the manufacturing cost would probably be lower than that, he said. They have filed a patent and hope to move forward with clinical trials that could lead to commercialization.
-end-
The work was supported by a WSU fund to support entrepreneurial endeavors.

Washington State University

Related Infection Articles:

Male infertility: Urogenital infection as a possible cause
In couples who have not been able to have children, male infertility is the cause in at least half of cases.
A novel approach to seeing dengue infection in the body
Positron emission tomography (PET) paired with the glucose metabolism probe, fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), is considered 'old' technology in the field of cancer.
Smelling the risk of infection
Humans and monkeys are social beings and benefit from a community.
Tuberculosis and HIV co-infection
The HIV virus increases the potency of the tuberculosis bacterium (Mtb) by affecting a central function of the immune system.
New insight into course and transmission of Zika infection
In one of the first and largest studies of its kind, a research team lead by virologists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has characterized the progression of two strains of the viral infection.
UTMB researchers protect against lethal Ebola Sudan infection four days after infection
Researchers at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, in collaboration with Arbutus Biopharma Corporation, have protected nonhuman primates against Ebola Sudan four days following exposure to the virus.
How tumor necrosis factor protects against infection
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a messenger substance in the immune system, plays an important role in triggering chronic inflammatory diseases.
Gene amplification -- the fast track to infection
Researchers at Umeå University in Sweden are first to discover that bacteria can multiply disease-inducing genes which are needed to rapidly cause infection.
New test allows for one-step diagnosis of HCV infection
The current standard in diagnosing Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection requires two sequential steps that make it suboptimal, costly, inconvenient, time consuming, and globally not widely available or affordable.
Do dressings prevent infection?
There is insufficient evidence to know whether dressings reduce the risk of wound infection after surgery and, in some cases, leaving a wound exposed may be better, say researchers in The BMJ today.

Related Infection Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Bias And Perception
How does bias distort our thinking, our listening, our beliefs... and even our search results? How can we fight it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the unconscious biases that shape us. Guests include writer and broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied, climatologist J. Marshall Shepherd, journalist Andreas Ekström, and experimental psychologist Tony Salvador.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#513 Dinosaur Tails
This week: dinosaurs! We're discussing dinosaur tails, bipedalism, paleontology public outreach, dinosaur MOOCs, and other neat dinosaur related things with Dr. Scott Persons from the University of Alberta, who is also the author of the book "Dinosaurs of the Alberta Badlands".