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Future smartphone accessory could tell if you have STD’s in just 15 minutes

cjmagowan  —  4 years ago ( Feb 07, 2015 )    |    Science, Technology


A team of researchers from the Columbia University led by Samuel K. Sia has created a device that could one day detect a person with either HIV or Syphilis infection straight from a smartphone dongle. The first of its kind dongle can be connected to any smartphone, a tablet or a PC perhaps via a 3.5mm headphone jack with an accompanying app.

The cost of the dongle is just $34 to manufacture and cost way too less than the one we have currently in the labs which would cost around $18,000 per machine. Published in Science Translational Medicine, the dongle performs enzyme-link immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect HIV antibody, Treponemal-specific Antibody to detect Syphilis and non-treponemal antibody to detect active infection of Syphilis.

For the test to be conducted, the dongle needs to be attached to any smartphone or compatible electronics device available and with an accompanying app installed. To start the test, you need to prick a finger in order to obtain blood and drop the blood sample into a plastic collector, Launch the accompanying app and press the button from the dongle to start testing. The dongle comes with the reagents needed to run the tests which are released after you pressed the button. The tests are done in 15 minutes, results will be display on the smartphone’s screen which works just like in the video below.

The new accessory for smartphones are currently under testing in Rwanda where it was used on some 96 patients in a number of voluntary test centers and prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission clinics. Knowing that the technology is at its infant stage, we could see false positive results in the process but the team behind its creation are working continuously to improve its accuracy and is very promising to know that someday, we could purchase one of these devices over the counter just like a pregnancy test kit of today and test ourselves privately at home.