This system, then, promises readouts that are affordable and easy to interpret.
"Some of the more advanced diagnostic systems need $200,000 worth of instrumentation to read the results," said Willson. "With this, you can add $20 to a phone you already have and you're done."
There are still major technical hurdles to clear before the system can be rolled out, Willson noted. One of the biggest challenges is finding a way to drive the bacteria and viruses in the sample down to the surface of the slide to ensure the most accurate results.
But if those problems are overcome, the system would be an excellent tool for healthcare providers in the field.
At the site of an industrial accident, for instance, the holes on a single slide could be populated with molecules that bond with 10 potential contaminants, allowing response teams to quickly assess the situation. In economically disadvantaged areas, such a system could be used to screen large groups of people for widespread and serious health problems, like diabetes.
"There are a lot of situations where an affordable diagnostic tool that is simple to use and simple to interpret could be very useful," said Willson. "If both your disposables and your reader are cheap, that makes it a lot easier to extend your system out into the real world."
|Contact: Jeannie Kever|
University of Houston