A U.S. team is developing a nanotechnology based diagnostic system that will diagnose diseases needing only a smartphone and a lens attachment valued at $20 to read the test results.
While some challenges still must be overcome, the team is hopeful the results will be a diagnostic tool that is affordable and will be used in the medical field.
The new detecting system was created by Jiming Bao a computer and electrical engineering assistant professor and Richer Willson biomolecular and chemical engineering professor in Texas at the University of Houston.
The ACS Photonics journal recently published the data and the two along with other colleagues had written about the biosensing nanotechnology method that is the heart of the new system.
The design of the new system is a device that uses biosensing coupled together with a microscope that is able to read the results.
New nanotechnology features in biosensing and the smartphone that is enhanced through having an affordable lens, could be the microscope, say researchers.
In their recent study, the researchers described how a high throughput technique in biosensing was developed that combines nanoholes optic transmission with silver staining.
In essence, the new device works as do all diagnostic tools, it can detect the result of chemical reactions between a molecule and a pathogen that bonds with it uniquely.
The pathogen might be a bacterium or virus, and the molecule an antibody that is disease fighting. An example of a diagnosis that is ironclad is the reaction that takes place when strep bacterium reacts with an anti-strep antibody that is unique.
The new diagnostic system allows a reaction to take place and then is able to sense a result in a way that it will not be confused with any other.
What is challenging is to devise a system that can work cheaply, easily and quickly: both on the side of biosensing of allowing such reactions and the results to take place uniquely and on the side of interpretation so they are able to be viewed then analyzed.
Much work is still needed but the possibility exists that an inexpensive quick and easy disease diagnostic unit can be developed.