. Medical and Hospital News .

Cradle turns smartphone into handheld biosensor
by Liz Ahlberg for UI News
Champaign IL (SPX) May 27, 2013

University of Illinois researchers developed a cradle and app for the iPhone to make a handheld biosensor that uses the phone's own camera and processing power to detect any kind of biological molecules or cells. Photo by Brian T. Cunningham.

Researchers and physicians in the field could soon run on-the-spot tests for environmental toxins, medical diagnostics, food safety and more with their smartphones.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a cradle and app for the iPhone that uses the phone's built-in camera and processing power as a biosensor to detect toxins, proteins, bacteria, viruses and other molecules.

Having such sensitive biosensing capabilities in the field could enable on-the-spot tracking of groundwater contamination, combine the phone's GPS data with biosensing data to map the spread of pathogens, or provide immediate and inexpensive medical diagnostic tests in field clinics or contaminant checks in the food processing and distribution chain.

"We're interested in biodetection that needs to be performed outside of the laboratory," said team leader Brian Cunningham, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and of bioengineering at the U. of I.

"Smartphones are making a big impact on our society - the way we get our information, the way we communicate.

"And they have really powerful computing capability and imaging. A lot of medical conditions might be monitored very inexpensively and non-invasively using mobile platforms like phones.

"They can detect molecular things, like pathogens, disease biomarkers or DNA, things that are currently only done in big diagnostic labs with lots of expense and large volumes of blood."

The wedge-shaped cradle contains a series of optical components - lenses and filters - found in much larger and more expensive laboratory devices. The cradle holds the phone's camera in alignment with the optical components.

At the heart of the biosensor is a photonic crystal. A photonic crystal is like a mirror that only reflects one wavelength of light while the rest of the spectrum passes through. When anything biological attaches to the photonic crystal - such as protein, cells, pathogens or DNA - the reflected color will shift from a shorter wavelength to a longer wavelength.

For the handheld iPhone biosensor, a normal microscope slide is coated with the photonic material. The slide is primed to react to a specific target molecule. The photonic crystal slide is inserted into a slot on the cradle and the spectrum measured. Its reflecting wavelength shows up as a black gap in the spectrum.

After exposure to the test sample, the spectrum is re-measured. The degree of shift in the reflected wavelength tells the app how much of the target molecule is in the sample. See a video of the app in action here.

The entire test takes only a few minutes; the app walks the user through the process step by step. Although the cradle holds only about $200 of optical components, it performs as accurately as a large $50,000 spectrophotometer in the laboratory. So now, the device is not only portable, but also affordable for fieldwork in developing nations.

In a paper published in the journal Lab on a Chip, the team demonstrated sensing of an immune system protein, but the slide could be primed for any type of biological molecule or cell type. The researchers are working to improve the manufacturing process for the iPhone cradle and are working on a cradle for Android phones as well. They hope to begin making the cradles available next year.

Cunningham's group is now collaborating with other groups across campus at the U. of I. to explore applications for the iPhone biosensor. The group recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation to expand the range of biological experiments that can be performed with the phone, in collaboration with Steven Lumetta, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and of computer science at the U. of I.

They are also are also working with food science and human nutrition professor Juan Andrade to develop a fast biosensor test for iron deficiency and vitamin A deficiency in expectant mothers and children.

In addition, Cunningham's team is working on biosensing tests that could be performed in the field to detect toxins in harvested corn and soybeans, and to detect pathogens in food and water.

"It's our goal to expand the range of biological experiments that can be performed with a phone and its camera being used as a spectrometer," Cunningham said.

"In our first paper, we showed the ability to use a photonic crystal biosensor, but in our NSF grant, we're creating a multi-mode biosensor. We'll use the phone and one cradle to perform four of the most widely used biosensing assays that are available."


Related Links
Institute for Genomic Biology
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory,
Hospital and Medical News at InternDaily.com

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Get Our Free Newsletters
Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear


Research offers promising new approach to treatment of lung cancer
Corvallis OR (SPX) May 24, 2013
Researchers have developed a new drug delivery system that allows inhalation of chemotherapeutic drugs to help treat lung cancer, and in laboratory and animal tests it appears to reduce the systemic damage done to other organs while significantly improving the treatment of lung tumors. This advance in nanomedicine combines the extraordinarily small size o ... read more

Japan nuclear lab accident affected 30: agency

Kerry unveils $4 bn Palestinian investment plan

Bill Gates hopeful of more aid from China

Japan nuclear lab accident affected 30: agency

GPS solution provides three-minute tsunami alerts

NASA Builds Unusual Testbed for Analyzing X-ray Navigation Technologies

Pakistan adopts Chinese rival GPS satellite system

China's BeiDou satellite navigation system has broad commercial uses

Monkey teeth help reveal Neanderthal weaning

170,000 living in subdivided flats in Hong Kong: study

China newborn rescued from toilet pipe: report

Origins of human culture linked to rapid climate change

Thinking 'big' may not be best approach to saving large-river fish

Huge China ivory haul reveals extent of trade: report

Encouraging signs for bee biodiversity

Scientists announce top 10 new species

No new H7N9 cases in China for second week: government

China province to abolish teacher HIV tests: report

Saudi to send animal samples to US in coronavirus probe

Flu vaccine also linked to narcolepsy in adults: study

Family kept Chinese man in cage for 11 years: report

China Nile relic vandal hunted down: report

China protest city demands ID to buy T-shirts: media

China migrant population growing, pay rises slowing

Report: Belgian army sold helicopters to firm linked to trafficking

US feds 'kidnapped' suspected druglord: Guinea-Bissau

US ships look to net big contraband catches in Pacific

Walker's World: Europe's prosperity envy

Walker's World: The trouble with banks.

Outside View: Europe's permanent recession

China urban private sector wages up 17.1% in 2012

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement