Smartphone Dongle Diagnoses Infectious Diseases in 15 Minutes

A new smartphone accessory can diagnose HIV and syphilis in just 15 minutes. The device was developed by Columbia University researchers and field-tested in Rwanda. Results were recently published in Science Translational Medicine. In the trial, health care workers tested blood from 96 patients, with only 30 minutes of training. The device costs just $34, whereas comparable laboratory equipment costs $18,450. This is the latest development of cheap, portable devices that take advantage of smartphone technology to bring advanced medical care to the developing world.

The device was intentionally designed with mechanical operation for low power consumption. It does not require a separate battery because it is powered by iPhone or android headphone jacks. Users prick a finger and place a drop of blood onto a plastic collector, then press a button that releases reagents that detect antibodies for HIV or syphilis. An app provides a diagnosis 15 minutes later. Unfortunately the field test showed some false-positive diagnoses, so the research team plans to improve accuracy before running a larger trial.

Source: Engadget | Medical News Today