Detecting disease with smartphone add-on
Sub-Saharan Africa has yet to experience the medical advancements that many Western countries have, especially with regards to the treatment of HIV/AIDS. That also holds true for Kaposi's sarcoma, a type of cancer associated with HIV/AIDS. But now engineers at Cornell University have developed a smartphone-based system that could aid in the early detection of the cancer by healthcare workers.
This new system consists of a plug-in optical accessory and disposable microfluidic chips, which can diagnose the herpes virus that causes the cancer – and all of this can be done in the field. In this system, gold nanoparticles combine with DNA snippets that bind to the DNA sequences of the cancer and a solution contained in the microfluidic chip. The optical sensor connected to the phone can detect clumping in the DNA particles, exhibited by a change in color.
The researchers believe that this portable means of collecting, testing and diagnosing samples could help save many lives. They hope that it could be available by next year, and that, in the future, it could be used to diagnose other diseases.