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AIDS Weekly Plus
Detecting disease with a smartphone accessory
Staff Writer
June 17, 2013

2013 JUN 17 (NewsRx) -- By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at AIDS Weekly -- As antiretroviral drugs that treat HIV have become more commonplace, the incidence of Kaposi's sarcoma, a type of cancer linked to AIDS, has decreased in the United States. The disease, however, remains prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, where poor access to medical care and lab tests only compound the problem. Now, Cornell University engineers have created a new smartphone-based system, consisting of a plug-in optical accessory and disposable microfluidic chips, for in-the-field detection of the herpes virus that causes Kaposi's. "The accessory provides an ultraportable way to determine whether or not viral DNA is present in a sample," says mechanical engineer David Erickson, who developed the technique along with his graduate student, biomedical engineer Matthew Mancuso. The technique could also be adapted for use in detecting a range of other conditions, from E. coli infections to hepatitis. Mancuso will describe the work at the Conference on Lasers and Electro Optics (CLEO: 2013), taking place June 9-14 in San Jose, Calif (see also HIV/AIDS).

Detecting Kaposi's sarcoma is not the only goal, Mancuso says. "Nanoparticle assays similar to the one used in our work can target DNA from many different diseases," such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterium responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections in humans, and syphilis. The smartphone reader could also work with other color-changing reactions, such as the popular enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), a common tool in medicine to test for HIV, hepatitis, food allergens, and E. coli. The lab also has created smartphone accessories for use with the color-changing strips in pH and urine assays. "These accessories could form the basis of a simple, at-home, personal biofluid health monitor," Mancuso says.

CLEO: 2013 presentation AM3M.2. "Smartphone Based Optical Detection of Kaposi's Sarcoma Associated Herpesvirus DNA" by David Erickson is at 2 p.m. on Monday, June 10 at the Marriott San Jose.

Keywords for this news article include: HIV/AIDS, Viral DNA, The Optical Society.

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