December 29, 2008
Cell Phones To Become Star Trek Medical Tricorders

Cell phones are already absorbing the functions of handheld games and MP3 music players and look set to replace laptop computers for many functions. Well, the idea of a separate handheld device for medical scanning turns out to be so 1960s. Cell phones will eventually scan blood and saliva.

Cell phones have already revolutionized the way people around the world communicate and do business. Thanks to advances being made at UCLA, they are about to do the same thing for medicine.

In the lab of UCLA electrical engineering professor Aydogan Ozcan, a prototype cell phone has been constructed that is capable of monitoring the condition of HIV and malaria patients, as well as testing water quality in undeveloped areas or disaster sites. The innovative imaging technology was invented by Ozcan, a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, and has been miniaturized by researchers in his lab to the point that it can fit in standard cell phones.

The imaging platform, known as LUCAS (Lensless Ultra-wide-field Cell monitoring Array platform based on Shadow imaging), has now been successfully installed in both a cell phone and a webcam. Both devices acquire an image in the same way, using a short wavelength blue light to illuminate a blood, saliva or other fluid sample. LUCAS captures an image of the microparticles in the solution using a sensor array.

So you will feel lousy, point your cell phone at your mouth as you stick out your tongue, and the cell phone will tell you what ails you. Beyond what is getting reported here I also expect eventually cell phones will either contain microfluidic devices (i.e. lab-on-a-chip) or will provide a UI into microfluidic devices. The cell phone will report the test results to an A.I. running on a server and will direct you to a local drug store to pick up a treatment.

Dr. McCoy won't even enter into it.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 December 29 08:43 PM  Biotech Assay Tools


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