This New Smartphone Diagnostic Tool Can Give Results Within Minutes


Ever had an infection but couldn’t get tested because your doctor needed to run tests and those tests would waste precious time and only confirm what the doctor already knew? Well, what if you could skip the waiting time and be in and out with a prognosis and a treatment plan? Sound too good to be true but this new Smartphone Diagnostic tool could help expedite your prognosis.

A team from McMaster University has developed a hand-held device that can be used for rapid testing of bacterial infections. The test kit can produce accurate and reliable results in under an hour and right on the spot. The kit is basically a USB stick with a microchip at one end that you can connect to your smartphone.

The team published the details of their device in a paper in the Journal Nature Chemistry, which you can read here. According to Leyla Soleymani, the paper’s co-corresponding author and an associate professor of engineering physics, “It’s going to mean that patients can get better treatment, faster results, and avoid serious complications. It can also avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics, which is something that can buy us time in the battle against antimicrobial resistance”.

Another co-corresponding author Yingfu Li, a professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences, added that “This will give doctors the science to support what they already suspect based on their skills and experience”. The microchip on the USB stick like a handheld device can analyze a droplet of bodily fluid like urine, blood, or saliva. It employees the use of molecules that can detect the specific protein signature of an infection.

The results are displayed on the smartphone in which the device is plugged. The test that works right now is the one used in diagnosing urinary tract infections from real clinical samples. The team’s goal is to adapt the microchip to detect other infections and types of bacteria as well.

Li said that “As scientists, we want to enable things. We are knowledgeable in different scientific and engineering principles, and when you put them together to help people, that’s a special feeling. Having the chance to impact society is the reason we all do this work”.

The team’s main goal is to help people. Their device could be a step forward in democratizing disease diagnosis. Aiming for a quick prognosis and subsequence treatment. According to study lead author, Richa Pandey, “This is a technology that can go anywhere in the world where testing is needed”.


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