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Rapid, Low-Cost Labs on a Smartphone

Howard Wolinsky

Smartphones have revolutionized our communications, as tweets, text messages, and even occasional phone calls come flying at us.

And these devices, actually handheld computers, are starting to change how healthcare is delivered. Smartphones now can replace blood pressure cuffs, thermometers and stethoscopes.

But even more dramatic applications are in the works. They will be able to perform clinical tests on patients, even in rural areas or resource-poor developing countries. Two US projects currently aim to create so-called “labs on smartphones.”

Finding Cancer Biomarkers

Lei Li, assistant professor at Washington State University’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, has developed a low-cost laboratory on a smartphone. He recently published a study demonstrating its ability to find cancer biomarkers. The smartphone lab is nearly as accurate as standard equipment. It also was successful in measuring pathogens like E. coli in food, as well as some plant viruses.

Sandia National Laboratories chemical engineer and lead paper author Aashish Priye offers a view into the Zika box prototype, along with co-authors Sara Bird, a virologist, center, and Cameron Ball...

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