Researchers at the University of South Florida have developed a blood test that may improve diagnosis for many diseases, including HIV and Lyme disease, reports EurekAlert. The new test uses a mobile phone for sample analysis, rather than the large, expensive, and slow equipment used at the moment.
Currently, these diseases are identified using the Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test, but it is hoped that the new method of analysis, Mobile Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (MELISA), will make the process easier. ELISA is a highly accurate test that involves a biochemical analysis of certain hormones and proteins through blood work and urinalysis tests that require large technical equipment. This makes the testing process prolonged and costly for patients, who often wait several weeks for results.
In comparison, MELISA is a mobile form of ELISA that requires less equipment and could be carried out in a doctor’s office or clinic, or remotely, rather than at a hospital. MELISA is used to measure progesterone levels. Progesterone is a steroid hormone involved in regulating female fertility processes, including menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause, and measuring its level in patients can be used to detect some cancers. The new MELISA test uses a water bath heater to incubate patient samples at a specific and constant temperature, before carrying out colour analysis using photographs taken on a mobile phone. Colour analysis identifies the green, blue, and red colour components of the sample. Since the blue component is particularly sensitive to progesterone level changes, it then undergoes additional analysis. The equipment needed for this entire process only weighs one pound, making it significantly more portable than the current technology.