A recently-developed mobile phone application could make monitoring conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, and urinary tract infections much clearer and easier for both patients and doctors, and could eventually be used to slow or limit the spread of pandemics in the developing world.
The app, developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, accurately measures colour-based, or colorimetric, tests for use in home, clinical or remote settings, and enables the transmission of medical data from patients directly to health professionals.
Decentralisation of healthcare through low-cost and highly portable point-of-care diagnostics has the potential to revolutionise current limitations in patient screening. However, diagnosis can be hindered by inadequate infrastructure and shortages in skilled healthcare workers, particularly in the developing world. Overcoming such challenges by developing accessible diagnostics could reduce the burden of disease on health care workers.
Due to their portability, compact size and ease of use, colorimetric tests are widely used for medical monitoring, drug testing and environmental analysis in a range of different settings throughout the world. The tests, typically in the form of small strips, work by producing colour change in a solution: the intensity of the colour which is produced determines the concentration of that solution.
Especially when used in a home or remote setting however, these tests can be difficult to read accurately. False readings are very common, which can result in erroneous diagnosis or treatment. Specialised laboratory equipment such as spectrophotometers or test-specific readers can be used to automate the readouts with high sensitivity, however these are costly and bulky.
The new app, Colorimetrix, makes accurate reading of colorimetric tests much easier, using nothing more than a mobile phone. The app uses the phone's camera and an algorithm
|Contact: Sarah Collins|
University of Cambridge