November 29, 2011
To self-diagnose, spit on an iPhone
Handheld gadgets could one day diagnose infections at the push of a button by using the supersensitive touchscreens in today's smartphones. New Scientist reports.
Many believe that in the future collecting samples of saliva, urine or blood could be performed using a cheap, USB-stick-sized throwaway device called a lab-on-a-chip. The user would inject a droplet of the fluid in the chip, and micropumps inside it would send the fluid to internal vessels containing reagents that extract target disease biomarker molecules. The whole device would then be sent to a lab for analysis.
But Hyun Gyu Park and Byoung Yeon Won at the Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology in Daejeon think touchscreens could improve the process by letting your phone replace the lab work. Park suggests the lab-on-a-chip could present a tiny droplet of the sample to be pressed against a phone's touchscreen for analysis, where an app would work out whether you have food poisoning, strep throat or flu, for example.
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