Researchers from Washington State University have come up with a diagnostic rig that can use a smartphone, a prism, and an ELISA plate to detect cancer. In the controlled settings of their lab, with the high-purity reagents they had to work with, the researchers were able to detect the cancer marker interleukin-6 (IL-6) with 99% accuracy.
By analysing the mix of chemicals in tissue samples, the device detects the biomarker interleukin 6 (IL-6), which has been closely linked to lung, prostate, liver, breast, and carcinoma (skin or tissue) cancers.
While it’s not the first smartphone spectrometer to be developed, the device’s ability to process eight samples at once means it could be invaluable for doctors working remotely without full hospital facilities.
“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,” says lead researcher Lei Li from Washington State University.
“They can’t carry a whole lab with them. They need a portable and efficient device.”
Spectrometers work by measuring properties of light within the electromagnetic spectrum. By recording how light shines through or bounces off something, scientists are able to identify harmful formations inside human cells.