Smartphones Save Lives

Smartphones Save Lives

24 February, 2015
Transforming Healthcare
Using smartphones to find, and fight, diseases
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If you think a disease-detecting smartphone gadget is way ahead of our time, think again! A team of bio-medical engineering researchers, led by Dr. Samuel K. Sia, has built a smartphone accessory that can detect HIV with a simple finger prick. The tiny device practically replicates all mechanical, optical, and electronic functions of a lab-based blood test. And the best part?—it only costs US $34!
 
Dr. Sia’s team has found a way to identify HIV that is efficient to both time and cost. The researchers believe that this device can make a significant impact on AIDS in Africa and in other major countries struck by AIDS and HIV. How it works: a small device connects to a smartphone or computer, and with the pinch of blood, the device is able to run a whole laboratory-quality immunoassay to scan for the diseases.
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), early detection can help stem the spread of HIV, and this can be particularly important for pregnant women. Women who detect HIV early can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus, to their offspring, to less than 1%.
 
According to a study published earlier this month on the device, a small clinical trial took place in Kigali, Rwanda, and the results were promising. “our work shows that a full laboratory-quality immunoassay can be run on a smartphone accessory,” says Sia. “Coupling microfluids 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 device is an effort to improve healthcare and to reduce the cost of medicine and medical diagnosis using the latest in ever-evolving technology. A wide range of startups and researchers are building portable devices that can screen for a myriad of diseases. Sia’s team’s device, which is yet to have a name, can identify syphilis as well as HIV.
 

By: Ecozine Staff
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