Smartphones are a vital part of our lives. No wonder scientists have introduced it in the medical field as well.
FREMONT, CA: The technological advancements in the medical field are increasing at an exponential rate. Recently, a test has been devised by biological engineers at the University of Bath that possess the ability to help medics in quickly diagnosing urinary tract infections (UTIs), utilizing a normal smartphone camera.
The process identifies the dangerous E.coli bacteria’s presence in a urine sample in just 25 minutes. Apart from being faster than other tests, it also makes accurate UTI testing more broadly accessible in developing countries and remote areas. In addition, it is portable as well as cheaper than present lab-based tests.
After detecting E. coli in bacterial UTIs, it notifies the medical experts about the requirement of antibiotic treatment. The test, which can be tailored to spot a variety of bacterial infections, takes advantage of widely available reagents and new micro-engineered materials, including a smartphone camera. The researchers have demonstrated the simplicity of the test, and it has successfully passed the proof-of-concept stage. The test can now deliver a new approach to quickly detect treatments for patients residing in remote or poorer areas.
The tests utilize antibodies for capturing bacterial cells in very thin capillaries within a plastic strip, finding and identifying the cells optically instead of capturing through microbiological techniques that are currently in use.
Being small and portable, the test can be majorly used in primary care settings and developing nations.
The latest test empowers medical professionals to quickly rule in or rule out specific conditions, treat patients more quickly, and make better decisions regarding antibiotics prescriptions.
How does the test work?
The test is conducted by passing a urine sample over a ridged plastic micro-capillary strip, which contains an immobilizing antibody that is able to detect E. coli bacterial cells. In the case of the presence of E. coli in the sample, the antibodies present in the reagents will bind with it and will restrict it from passing through the section of plastic strip. Finally, an enzyme is put in it, which changes the color that can be clicked by a smartphone camera.
Moreover, the system measures the E. coli’s concentration in the sample by assessing a picture taken by the camera. The process is simple and can be manually operated or completely automated without any requirement for a mains power supply.