- Analyzing DNA and genetic mutations can now be made accessible and affordable with the help of a new add-on microscope smartphone attachment.
- This device, produced using a 3-D printer, uses the camera in any modern smartphone to detect even small amounts of cancer cells among a large group of normal cells.
- The researcher team feel that the device could help the doctors treat cancer, tuberculosis and other diseases more effectively especially in the developing countries.
A new smartphone accessory has been built which could be a cheap and effective way to analyze DNA and genetic mutation.
The device, which is a microscope attachment for smartphone, is a result of collaboration between researchers from the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, Stockholm University and Uppsala University.
"A typical microscope with multiple imaging modes would cost around $10,000," lead researcher Aydogan Ozcan, UCLA professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering, said in a statement. "Whereas higher-end versions, such as the one we used to validate our mobile-phone microscope, would go for $50,000 or more."
To study human cells and tissues and to detect the DNA sequencing and genetic mutations in tumor cells, the device uses the camera available in any modern smartphone, without having to first extract DNA from them.
How this Device Works
This device is simple to use.
A sample of the patient's tissue is taken and is put in a container. It is then placed it under a special lens attached to the smartphone's own camera.
The phone snaps several images of the resulting sample and then runs that information through an algorithm.
The algorithm which is designed to identify tumor DNA or genetic mutations hidden within normal tissue, automatically analyses the images to read the sequenced DNA of the extracted tumor DNA, or to find genetic mutations directly inside the tumor tissue.
This mobile microscope, produced using a 3-D printer, can detect even small amounts of cancer cells among a large group of normal cells.
For the experiments the scientists used a Nokia Lumia 1020, which was known for its picture quality when it was released, in 2013. But the device could be adapted for use with newer smartphones.
Though this device is not commercially available, it is an important first step to make high-end medical diagnostics accessible and easy to use.
The new tool could potentially allow doctors to perform high-end diagnostics outside a hospital.
The scientists who have developed the attachment feel that the device could help the doctors treat cancer, tuberculosis and other diseases more effectively especially in the developing countries.
The research was published in the journal Nature's Communications.