Researchers from the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, Stockholm and Uppsala University have developed a small, 3D printed microscope fitted to a phone to assist DNA-sequencing in tumour cells and tissue samples.
The lightweight optical attachment is coupled with a standard smartphone camera. They produced the device using a 3D printer, it captures multi-colour fluorescence and bright-field images, reported phys.org.
Using the device involves placing a tissue sample in a small container, the mobile phone microscope then records multi-mode images of the processed sample and feeds data to an algorithm, which automatically examines the images to read the sequenced DNA bases.
The microscope identifies the presence of a targeted DNA sequence while examining samples of tumours or bacteria, virus and fungal cells which informs the doctor on the nature of cancer, bacteria or virus.
The identification of the DNA-level will detect sensitivity of disease-causing pathogens to certain type of antibiotics allowing for suitable treatment from the beginning.
Stockholm University department of biochemistry and biophysics professor Mats Nilsson said: “Antibiotics are an efficient weapon against bacteria.
"But we are beginning to lose that weapon as bacteria become resistant.
“With tuberculosis, resistance is a serious problem.
"But if we could look at the DNA and find out if a bacteria is sensitive to a certain type of antibiotic, we could pick the right treatment straight away.”
The actual microscope has been designed by the UCLA researchers and the DNA analysis has been developed by researchers at Stockholm and Uppsala University and SciLifeLab Stockholm.
The technology can be made accessible to poorer parts of world if it is manufactured on a large bringing down its total cost as well as it is not dependant on a stable supply of electricity.
The device has demonstrated its functionality in diagnosis of colorectal tumours by examining certain mutations of the tumour and discarded unnecessary treatments.
Researchers are also expecting functionality of the device to accelerate diagnosis of virus infections such as Ebola and Zika.
Image: The 3D printed microscope. Photo: © Uppsala University.