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UCLA researchers invent portable device for kidney testsMonday 2 September 2013 15:30 CEST
Scientists have developed a lightweight and portable device that attaches to a smartphone and it conducts kidney tests at-home with instant results. The gadget may significantly reduce the need for frequent hospital visits by people with diabetes and chronic kidney conditions.
The device invented at University of California, Los Angeles, and transmits data through a smartphone attachment.
The gadget can determine levels of albumin, a protein in blood that is a sign of danger when found in urine, in the patient's urine and transmit the results within seconds. Ozcan's lab also developed the opto-mechanical phone attachment, disposable test tubes, Android app and software to transmit the data.
Patients at risk for diabetes, kidney disease and other ailments must regularly provide fluid samples, sometimes more than one a day, to monitor their health, which requires visits to labs or health centers.
The new device projects beams of visible light through two small fluorescent tubes attached to the device, and then the smartphone camera captures the fluorescent light after it passes through an additional lens. An Android app then processes the images in less than one second and the device transmits the test results to a database or health care provider.
The time it takes to conduct a test, including preparation of a sample using a small syringe to inject the urine into a fluorescent tube, is about five minutes. Scientists estimate that the device could be produced commercially for$50 to $100 per unit.
The smartphone-based device was developed in the research lab of Aydogan Ozcan, a professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, and associate director of the California NanoSystems Institute.
"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," Mr. Ozcan said.