Bioanalysis Zone

The smart way to diagnose kidney problems


Researchers unveil smartphone-based diagnostic device that could allow remote diagnosis for common kidney ailment.

A group of researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science (CA, USA) have recently published a paper outlining a portable diagnostic device. The system, which utilizes a smartphone to measure and transmit data, can carry out the most common kidney test; potentially reducing regular trips to clinics for people with kidney ailments.

Albumin, a protein found in blood, is a warning sign when found in the urine – a condition known as microalbuminuria. The device uses spectroscopy to analyze levels of this protein in urine. The system consists of two tubes – the first holds the urine sample, which is loaded using a small syringe and mixed with fluorescent dye, the second tube contains a control liquid. The smartphone camera, with an opto-mechanical attachment and android app to transmit the data, analyzes the two tubes, capturing the fluorescent light to thus determine albumin levels.

The team is led by Aydogan Ozcan – founder of mobile microanalysis startup company Holomic LLC. On testing their device, they demonstrated accuracy within 10 micrograms per milliliter, which is within accepted clinical standards in diagnosing microalbuminuria. It is envisaged that the results, once processed by the smartphone, would be transmitted directly to a database or healthcare provider.

In their paper, published in a recent issue of Lab on a Chip, the team outlines the advantages of their device. At approximately one-third of a pound, the device is lightweight and portable; with potential applications for personal use. In addition, they envisage the device costing approximately US$50–100 to produce commercially. As Ozcan explains, “Albumin testing is frequently done to assess kidney damage, especially for diabetes patients. This device provides an extremely convenient platform for chronic patients at home or in remote locations where cell phones work.”

Source: UCLA researchers invent portable device for common kidney tests.



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