Researchers have developed a cellphone-based blood test technology that can provide immediate results in the comfort of one's home or a doctor's clinic, thereby cutting visits to the laboratory.
In a paper published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics, the researchers detailed a mobile version of the "Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay" (ELISA), the gold standard technique used to detect the presence of an antibody or antigen.
"ELISA is an important technology for biochemical analysis of proteins and hormones and is critical for the diagnosis of many diseases, such as HIV and Lyme Disease," said corresponding author Anna Pyayt, Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, US.
"But the machines required for the incubation and reading are expensive and bulky," Pyayt said.
Instead of sending patients to a laboratory, the new cellphone-based technology - Mobile Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (MELISA) -- allows for the very same test to be conducted in the doctor's office, clinic or even in a remote area.
"The MELISA allows patients to undergo testing and obtain results at point-of-care," Pyayt said.
The device accurately measures progesterone levels, a key hormone that impacts female fertility and is indicative of some cancers.
It consists of a water bath heater that incubates samples at a target temperature and analyses them via images taken by mobile phone.
The device uses colour analysis to determine the RGB (red, green, blue) colour components of each sample.
The blue colour component is used for further analysis due to its sensitivity to the changes in progesterone concentration.
"It is designed to make biomedical testing simple and affordable. When low cost testing can be integrated with routine clinic visits, this would greatly improve the quality of healthcare and detect worrisome signs earlier," Pyayt added.
The portable MELISA weighs less than half a kg, and the researchers believe that it has the potential help older patients suffering chronic conditions and those across the world.