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A smart phone test to check Urinary Tract Infection

Smartphone test

            Technology is a great friend, and advances that have been made in technology has made our lives easier, healthier and longer, than compared to what our ancestors could ever enjoy or experience. New innovations push the boundaries of technological achievement every day and that’s the reason technology always keeps advancing to attain a new pinnacle, only to be dethroned by a newer achievement. In this article, we shall see how one could now use a smart phone to check if they have urinary tract infection in just thirty minutes.

            Scientists affiliated with the University of Bath, England have devised a technique that utilizes the camera of smart phone to detect the presence of urinary tract infection. More specifically, this technology is used to identify the presence of E.coli bacteria in the urinary tract. The bacterium tends to be present in almost 80% of all cases of urinary tract infection. Featured in the Biosensors and Bioelectronics magazine, this test has major applications in primary care settings in developing countries.

            The procedure is as follows: a urine sample is passed over a ridged plastic micro-capillary containing an antibody that can identify the concerned bacterial cells. If the bacterium is present, the antibodies would bind with it and it would prevent it from passing through the section of the plastic strip. Then, an enzyme is added that causes it to change color, which is detectable by a smart phone camera. The concentration of the bacterium in the sample is measured by analyzing the image taken by the camera. The entire process is simple and just takes about twenty-five minutes.

            The benefit of the test is that wealthy countries like Britain have recently witnessed a shift in trend that favors decentralized diagnostics when it comes to the context of healthcare, which helps to reduce pressure on national and regional laboratories. The process can also be used in developing countries, where technological advancement hinders the very process of diagnosing and identifying a disease. Therefore, the advantage of the test is that it considerably speeds up the diagnostics process as well as reduces the overall cost that is otherwise involved in procuring healthcare services.

            The objective of the test is not to put centralized diagnostics into irrelevance. Rather, it aims to provide an affordable and rapid means of identifying a disease, from which the allocation of antibiotics could be quickly made and thus, people suffering from urinary tract infection can be treated sooner than ever before. The next step is the clinical trials, which would require collaboration with both clinical and commercial partners. The team of scientists responsible for this technological breakthrough would also work on refining the test further, so that it would be able to detect types of bacteria and their respective concentrations.

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