When it comes to learning your HIV status, the power may soon be right at your fingertips. Researchers at Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a plug-in device for smartphones that tests for HIV and syphilis, reports Science Daily.
By using a finger-prick of blood, the attachment tests for three infectious disease markers in a rapid response 15 minutes.
The device replicates, for the first time, all mechanical, optical, and electronic functions of a lab-based blood test without requiring any stored energy: all necessary power is drawn from the smartphone.
“Our work shows that a full laboratory-quality immunoassay can be run on a smartphone accessory,” says Samuel K. Sia, lead researcher and associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering.
“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.”
The attachment costs only $34 to make, much less than the thousands of dollars of typical testing equipment.
Field testing using the device has been performed in Rwanda, with a 97% patient recommendation. Researchers are excited to expand in developing countries to slow the spread of HIV. “And we are equally excited about exploring how this technology can benefit patients and consumers back home,” said Sia.
The study published in the February 4 issue of Science Translational Medicine.