Researchers including one of Indian origin have developed a smartphone-controlled, battery-operated diagnostic device that costs as little as $100 and claims to detect Zika Virus, dengue and chikungunya within 30 minutes.
The device is developed by a team at the Sandia National Labs, a part of the US Department of Energy, which is based on the loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) diagnostic method which eliminates the need to process a biological sample such as blood or urine, before testing.
“In addition to creating an app that serves as a simple interface to operate the device, we were able to adapt smartphone camera sensors to replace traditional laboratory sample analysis tools, allowing for unprecedented mobility,” said chemical engineer and lead author of the paper Aashish Priye.
Zika fever is a disease caused by the Zika virus that is spread through mosquito bites. It is mostly spread through an infected Aedes species mosquito. It can be passed from the mother to her foetus and cause certain birth defects also.
“We’ve demonstrated that the chemistry we’re using can amplify viral RNA directly from raw, unprocessed samples,” said Sandia chemical engineer and project lead Robert Meagher.
For the Zika project, Meagher’s team developed a novel algorithm that allows a smartphone sensor to act as a fluorimeter, detecting QUASR LAMP light signals if they appear.
By enabling diagnosis in 30 minutes, the device could help clinicians make faster decisions about patient care and isolation, and rapidly alert public health authorities so that they can take measures to prevent spread of the virus. Moreover, all the three viruses are spread by the same mosquito and have similar symptoms. This one device can help in testing all three kinds of viruses at the same time thus making the whole diagnosis quick and easy.