Though ELISA tests are the gold standard for diagnosing a whole slew of infectious diseases, the technology has remained stuck within hospital labs.
The journal Science Translational Medicine reports that the appliance, called a dongle, pulls its power from the smartphone and works with a fingerprick of blood, much like a home diabetes blood glucose test.
AdvertisementSamuel K. Sia, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia's School of Engineering and Applied Science Columbia University in New York and colleagues tested the device on 96 volunteers.
Such a combination immunoassay has not previously been available in a unified test. It has already been trialed in field tests in Rwanda on 96 people enrolled in disease transmission prevention programs and volunteers in counseling and testing centers.
"It wasn't perfect, but worked almost as well as an expensive lab test to show who had active syphilis infections and who was infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS," they said.
The device will cost roughly $34 to manufacture, orders of magnitude cheaper than conventional ELISA machines while providing similar accuracy of results.
The developers added, "We might be able to scale up HIV testing at the community level with immediate antiretroviral therapy that could nearly stop HIV transmissions and approach elimination of this devastating disease."