Smartphones serve as DNA scanners

Diagnosis of disease and infection in the field, mainly in third-world countries is a major challenge, as necessary tools and equipment is not readily available.  But thanks to a new invention, doctors are able to determine an illness by using their smartphone.

A scientific team from UCLA quests to make the process simpler and affordable by inventing an attachment to any smartphone, which converts the phone into a DNA scan fluorescent glow microscope.

The attachment is produced  with an external lens, a thin film filter, a mount and a laser diode encased in a 3D-printed case that can be attached to a smartphone.

To be able to use the microscope, doctors must isolate and identify the specific DNA they are looking for. Although it seems complicated, it can be easily done even in the field with limited resources. Doctors can then scan for that DNA with the contraption on their phone thru a simple interface and Windows Apps. After scanning, data are process thru a server which  measures the length of the DNA molecules.

Even though the process may sound fantastic and complicated, it takes only about 10 seconds  with a good Wi-FI connection.

While other scientists have invented attachments for turning smart phones into microscopes, this is a first of its kind with the capacity to probe for single strand DNA. Since smartphones nowadays are so common, scientists believe that this is a good solution for a speedy delivery of data.

Upon testing the device in the lab, it showed no problem scanning DNA segments for at least 10,000 base pairs. This includes detection of a gene accountable for Staph infections and other bacteria which  are antibiotic resistant.

However, the device was not successful in scanning DNA segments with only 5,000 base-pairs. Scientists think they are able to resolve that glitch by utilization of a higher number aperture on the lens.

Scientists from UCLA intends for their device to prove useful in remote settings for diagnosis of diseases thru DNA-scanning, comprising of cancer and Alzheimer’s and diagnose infectious diseases that are antibiotics resistant. They also plan to run tests in the field in the future, including using the device in malaria detection which is resistant to antibiotics.






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