At a time when patients and medical professionals expect always faster results, researchers are trying to translate biodetection technologies used in laboratories to the field and clinic, so patients can get nearly instant diagnoses in a physician's office, an ambulance or the emergency room. The team created an eight channel smartphone spectrometer that can detect human interleukin-6 (IL-6), a known biomarker for lung, prostate, liver, breast and epithelial cancers. A spectrometer analyzes the amount and type of chemicals in a sample by measuring the light spectrum.
Although smartphone spectrometers exist, they only monitor or measure a single sample at a time, making them inefficient for real world applications. Li's multichannel spectrometer can measure up to eight different samples at once using a common test called ELISA, or colorimetric test enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, that identifies antibodies and color change as disease markers.
Credit: Washington State University
The group has only used the smartphone spectrometer with standard lab-controlled samples, their device has been up to 99 percent accurate. Now they have to apply their portable spectrometer in real world situations.
"With our eight channel spectrometer, we can put eight different samples to do the same test, or one sample in eight different wells to do eight different tests. This increases our device's efficiency," said Lei Li, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University, who has filed a provisional patent for the work.
"The spectrometer would be especially useful in clinics and hospitals that have a large number of samples without on-site labs, or for doctors who practice abroad or in remote areas," he said. "They can't carry a whole lab with them. They need a portable and efficient device."