Enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay, or ELISA, is a diagnostic tool that identifies antigens in blood samples.
ELISA can detect a number of diseases, including HIV and it is widely used in hospitals. It can also be used to identify potential allergens in food, among other applications.
A team of scientists from the California NanoSystems Institute at The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has developed a new mobile phone-based device that can read ELISA plates in the field with the same level of accuracy as the large machines normally found in clinical laboratories.
The study was led by Aydogan Ozcan, associate director of the California NanoSystems Institute, along with Dino Di Carlo, professor of bio-engineering, and Omai Garner, associate director of clinical microbiology for the UCLA Health System.
"It is quite important to have these kinds of mobile devices, especially for administering medical tests that are usually done in a hospital or clinical laboratory. This mobile platform can be used for point-of-care testing, screening populations for particular diseases, or tracking vaccination campaigns in most resource-poor settings. It's fantastic for an undergrad to be first author on the publication," said Ozcan, who is also Chancellor's Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering.
The device created with a 3D printer illuminates the ELISA plate with an array of light-emitting diodes. The light projects through each well and is collected by 96 individual plastic optical fibers in the attachment. The printer attached smartphone transmits the resulting images to UCLA servers through a custom-designed app. The images are then analyzed by a machine-learning algorithm and the diagnostic results are sent back to the phone within about one minute for the entire 96-well plate.
The app also creates a visualization of the results for the user. The research is published in the journal ACS Nano.