Definitely one of the most important innovations in a long time, a smartphone accessory has been created to diagnose HIV and syphilis infections within fifteen minutes. A team of researchers led by Samuel K Sia, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University, has achieved this commendable feat.
All it needs is a finger-prick of blood and a smartphone. The dongle-like device can be plugged into the smartphone, which pipes data into a companion app. The app tests for three infectious-disease markers in that time and displays the test results on-screen. “A full laboratory-quality immunoassay can be run on a smartphone accessory,” Sia noted.
The accessory has already been used to test nearly 100 patients in Rwanda as part of a programme aimed at reducing mother-to-child transmission of the HIV virus. During the trial, healthcare workers only required about 30 minutes of hands-on training. During field testing, majority of the patients said that they would recommend the dongle because of its fast turn-around time, ability to offer results for multiple diseases and simplicity of use.
As reported by firstpost.com, Sia estimates the dongle to have a manufacturing cost of 34 USD, which is a huge advantage over the expensive (and bulky) ELISA equipment which healthcare workers have to use today. Deploying this dongle on a large scale would be incredibly cheap.