A new smartphone accessory developed by engineers at Cornell University allows doctors to test for Kaposi’s sarcoma, a type of cancer linked to AIDS. This type of cancer is common in many parts of Africa, where basic medical care and simple lab tests are not readily available.
The package consists of an app, a lens and a tiny round chip that work with smartphone technology to conduct a chemical test on a patient’s DNA. The program rund off solar energy and each test takes about 30 minutes to complete. With a full battery on the phone, the setup can go for 70 hours without being charged. This requires 100 times less energy than traditional testing options, and it costs less than $500.
Gold nanoparticles are combined with DNA to bind with Kaposi’s DNA. The solution is added to a microfluidic chip. If the patient’s DNA is viral, the particles will clump together and not allow much light to pass through. It will also change the solution purple. The app can detect how severe the infection is based on the type of color and light emitted from the test.
This same test can be adapted for other medical problems, like hepatitis and E. coli. It will take time for this program to be distributed to the right areas, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.