Researchers at the University of Glasgow in the UK have developed a new handheld diagnostic device comprising a sensor and a smartphone app.

The device, which is part of the university’s multicorder project, is designed to measure different metabolite levels in fluid samples such as serum and urine from patients.

The measurement and tracking of metabolites is expected to help monitor general health and progression of certain diseases.

“The new handheld diagnostic device is based on a new form of complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) chip, which is used in imaging devices.”

The device can simultaneously detect and quantify several metabolite biomarkers. The team expects this functionality to aid in the effective treatment of heart attack, cancer and stroke which requires rapid diagnosis.

University of Glasgow School of Engineering research associate Samadhan Patil said: “We have been able to detect and measure multiple metabolites associated with myocardial infarction, or heart attack, and prostate cancer simultaneously using this device.

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“This device has potential to track progression of the disease in its early phase and is ideally suited for the subsequent prognosis.”

Nuclear magnetic resonance and hyphenated mass spectrometry are commonly used to measure metabolites but are considered expensive and need bulky equipment.

To address such issues, the new handheld diagnostic device is based on a new form of complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) chip, which is used in imaging devices.

The chip is inexpensive, small and is divided into multiple reaction zones for allowing simultaneous detection and quantification of four metabolites.

University of Glasgow School of Life Sciences professor Mike Barrett said: “This new handheld device offers democratisation of metabolomics, which is otherwise confined within the laboratory, and offers low-cost alternative to study complex pathways in different diseases.”

The handheld diagnostic device can be operated through an Android-based tablet or smartphone that will offer data acquisition, computation, visualisation and power.