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Smartphones Can Now Be Used To Analyze DNA

Update Date: Jan 21, 2017 05:46 PM EST

A device was developed by scientists to help make genetic testing available in remote areas. The DNA sequence can identify a gene or mutation that may cause a disease.

Not all countries are as developed as others. Some have limited resources and tools to conduct a DNA sequencing analysis can be quite challenging.

The device can help speed up the process after gathering cell and tissue samples from patients without having to send them to fare away well-equipped labs for analysis.

UCLA Newsroom reported researchers at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA and at Sweden's Stockholm University and Uppsala University developed a Smarthphone-based microscope that could make a mutation testing. The device is capable of imaging and analyzing specific DNA sequences and genetic mutations in tumor cells and tissue samples without having to first extract DNA.

 "A typical microscope with multiple imaging modes would cost around $10,000, whereas higher-end versions, such as the one we used to validate our mobile phone microscope, would go for $50,000 or more," said Aydogan Ozcan, lead researcher UCLA Chancellor's Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering.

The device may cost less than $500 each if produced in large quantities, which is cheaper and convenient. It is light and can be attached to a smartphone camera. It can capture "multi-color fluorescence and bright-field images" which happens to be the same quality that of a traditional light microscope. The 3D-printer exteriror contains two lasers, white LED, lens and filter.

It can record multi-mode images from tissues in a small container and send the data to an algorithm that automatically analyzes the images and reads the sequenced DNA bases or find genetic mutations from the tumor tissue. It can detect even small amounts of cancer cells among a large group of normal cells according to UCLA Newsroom.

According to Popular Science, DNA genetic sequences can reveal if a TB infection is resistant to certain antibiotics, or if a tumor has mutations that render some drugs useless.

"It's very important to have these molecular testing approaches at a doctor's office or where care is being given," Mats Nilsson said.  

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