Cell Phone App Detects Bacteria and Infectious Diseases

As the need for biosensing platforms around the world becomes more critical, researchers have developed a phone-based application to detect diseases.

As the need for biosensing platforms around the world becomes more critical, researchers have developed a phone-based application to detect diseases.

Published on Nature, the new technology would require placing a drop of blood from a finger prick on a thin, lightweight material. After the blood is placed on the “flexible polyester film-based electrical sensing platform”, Co-First Author Waseem Asghar, PhD, and his colleagues explained that the cell phone app would use images to detect possible pathogens or bacteria in the blood.

“There is a dire need for robust, portable, disposable and inexpensive biosensing platforms for clinical care, especially in developing countries with limited resources,” Asghar said in a news release.

The Florida Atlantic University researchers, along with other contributors, expressed that this method of detection is important because it eliminates onsite medical staff. The images can be analyzed from anywhere in the world, which solves current limitations.

The team informed that the 3 different materials they used have electrical and optical sensing modalities. This is different from other technology because these platforms are able use antibodies to isolate multiple biotargets.

Three different phones were used to evaluate the bacteria including an iPhone4, Samsung i9300 Galaxy S3, and HTC Vivid. However, no camera proved to be better at detection than another.

The technology has the capability to detect the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Escherichia coli (E. coli), and staphylococcus aureus (staph infections).The study noted that it was confirmed that E. coli can be observed with the naked eye based on the colors presented using an image analysis tool on the computer.

“Our paper microchip technologies can potentially have a significant impact on infectious diseases management in low- and middle-income countries where there is limited laboratory infrastructure,” Senior Author HadiShafiee, PhD, said.

Not only could the film be a diagnostic tool, but it also can be used to monitor treatment.As technology looks towards the future, portable readers can help monitor human health in a way never touched on before.