Scientists Can Sequence DNA With A Smartphone

Scientists have made a smartphone based microscope that will make cancer screening accessible to healthcare workers in the most remote areas of the world.

The device will mostly benefit underdeveloped countries. Where doctors don’t have the tools for DNA sequencing analysis for genetic mutations.

Researchers at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, Sweden’s Stockholm University. And Uppsala University also developed a lightweight optical attachment. The new device works with a standard smartphone camera. However, the best part is that they can be mass-produced for under $500 each.

A standard microscope with multiple imaging modes would normally cost $10,000. And higher-end versions usually go for $50,000 or more.

The low-cost 3D-printed alternative plugs into any smartphone to record multi-mode images in the same quality as a light microscope. Then it feeds the data to an algorithm for automatic analysis. The new gadget can also detect small amounts of cancer cells hidden among a large group of healthy ones.

One of the first authors of the study, Malte Kühnemund, says low-cost DNA sequencing and tumor biopsy analysis can drastically decrease diagnostic costs. And also make it more widely accessible.

While we usually outsource diagnostic tests to specialized labs. This technology will allow doctors to perform high-end cancer diagnostics anywhere in the world.

The device uses a Nokia Lumia 1020 handset, with a 38-megapixel camera and a 1/1.5-inch sensor. Also has a focal length of 6.86 mm, and the microscope’s external lens provides 2.6 times the magnification factor.

Mats Nilsson, professor of biophysics and biochemistry at Stockholm and Uppsala Universities. Says it’s extremely important to have these molecular testing options at the doctor’s office or anywhere that care is available. Most times, advanced testing is only available at major hospitals, which is very limiting. Not everyone has access to a hospital where these tests can be performed. So this opens the door for everyone in the world to have access to advanced DNA testing.