In another breakthrough in medical science, researchers, including one of Indian origin, are claiming to have developed a new smartphone-controlled, battery-operated device that will cost just $100 and is capable of detecting Zika, dengue and chikungunya virus within 30 minutes. All three diseases are spread by the same mosquito type and almost have the same early symptoms.
Technology has come a long way and the current world has almost all the needed resources for medical upgradation. Researchers from all over the world are coming together and are developing some of the most advanced medical-tech for the betterment of this world. The pace of advancement is even way faster than that of a new disease striking the humanity.
We all remember what Ebola did to the human race. At that time, there was a recently developed cure but it was the availability had affected us the most. In the past too, Kingdoms have fallen and the human race had come to an extinction-like phase, but we have somehow managed to defy all odds and have fought back.
And here we are again. Putting an end to the worry of availability and making our lives easier to live, Sandia National Laboratories in the US have developed a diagnostic device that can detect three of the most commonly found diseases i.e. Zika, dengue and chikungunya.
All of these diseases are spread by the same mosquito type and since we are struggling to move towards a cleaner and greener world, this device will become our ultimate rescuer very soon. Testing for these mosquito-borne viruses requires a laboratory and patients also have to wait days for results. This makes rapid testing somewhat unrealistic for limited-resource clinics in all the developing countries where these viruses are prevalent. The required equipment alone costs around $20,000.
However, this smartphone-controlled, battery-operated device is based on the loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) detection method. This eliminates the need to process biological samples like blood or urine, before testing. With the help of Sandia’s prototype diagnostic tool, care providers can quickly test all three at the same time, preventing misdiagnoses. The same device can also be adapted to detect other human or animal pathogens.
LAMP box can copy viral DNA/RNA without the heating and cooling cycle and the addition of a few carefully designed biochemical agents allows the box to test a sample which is heated only once to 65 degrees Celsius for half an hour.
The user only needs to open an app after placing the smartphone on top of the LAMP box and the app turns on the heater to trigger the LAMP reaction. Once the 30-minute testing period is over, the smartphone photographs the sample after which, the app employs a novel image analysis algorithm to determine the color and brightness of the glow which is emitted from the LAMP reaction. The smartphone-based image analysis is claimed to offer much better detection certainty than a lab technician’s naked eye.
“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 Aashish Priye, the researcher of Indian origin.
“We’ve demonstrated that the chemistry we’re using can amplify viral RNA directly from raw, unprocessed samples,” he added.
If world leaders decide to invest in this technology and make it available in each and every developing nation where medical issues are claimed hundreds and thousands of lives each year due to improper diagnostics and the reach of medical services, this breakthrough can really be one of the biggest ones in recent medical science research history.