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 from Brightsurf:

Halving the risk of infection following surgery
New analysis by the University of Leeds and the University of Bern of more than 14,000 operations has found that using alcoholic chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) halves the risk of infection in certain types of surgery when compared to the more commonly used povidone-iodine (PVI).

How plants shut the door on infection
A new study by an international team including University of Maryland scientists has discovered the key calcium channel responsible for closing plant pores as an immune response to pathogen exposure.

Sensing infection, suppressing regeneration
UIC researchers describe an enzyme that blocks the ability of blood vessel cells to self-heal.

Boost to lung immunity following infection
The strength of the immune system in response to respiratory infections is constantly changing, depending on the history of previous, unrelated infections, according to new research from the Crick.

Is infection after surgery associated with increased long-term risk of infection, death?
Whether experiencing an infection within the first 30 days after surgery is associated with an increased risk of another infection and death within one year was the focus of this observational study that included about 660,000 veterans who underwent major surgery.

Revealed: How E. coli knows how to cause the worst possible infection
The discovery could one day let doctors prevent the infection by allowing E. coli to pass harmlessly through the body.

UK study shows most patients with suspected urinary tract infection and treated with antibiotics actually lack evidence of this infection
New research presented at this week's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Amsterdam, Netherlands (April 13-16, 2019) shows that only one third of patients that enter the emergency department with suspected urinary tract infection (UTI) actually have evidence of this infection, yet almost all are treated with antibiotics, unnecessarily driving the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.

Bacteria in urine doesn't always indicate infection
Doctors should think carefully before testing patients for a urinary tract infection (UTI) to avoid over-diagnosis and unnecessary antibiotic treatment, according to updated asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB) guidelines released by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Subsidies for infection control to healthcare institutions help reduce infection levels
Researchers compared three types of infection control subsidies and found that under a limited budget, a dollar-for-dollar matching subsidy, in which policymakers match hospital spending for infection control measures, was the most effective at reducing the number of hospital-acquired infections.

Dengue virus infection may cause severe outcomes following Zika virus infection during pregnancy
This study is the first to report a possible mechanism for the enhancement of Zika virus progression during pregnancy in an animal model.

Read More: Infection News and Infection Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.