Cell Phone Case Detects Cancer-Related DNA Mutations

cancer mobile phone dna tumour
The cell phone case has a built-in microscope which uses the device's camera for DNA sequencing. M. KÜHNEMUND et al., Nature Communications

Biologists have developed a smartphone case which can detect cancer-related mutations and diagnose problems with tumors using DNA sequencing.

The scientists' research, published in the journal Nature Communications, describes how a 3D-printed attachment can be used to detect mutations using the smartphone's camera.

"Molecular diagnostics is typically outsourced to well-equipped centralized laboratories, often far from the patient," the paper's abstract states. "We developed molecular assays and portable optical imaging designs that permit on-site diagnostics with a cost-effective mobile-phone-based multimodal microscope."

The paper describes the mobile phone microscope as a "new milestone for telemedicine technologies." In tests, the case was able to match traditional lab diagnoses 100 percent of the time.

The cell phone case is the latest in a growing trend of using consumer devices like smartphones within healthcare.

A new generation of apps have emerged in recent years that combine a smartphone's sensors with the vast power of cloud computing in order to accurately diagnose disease or illness—ranging from skin cancer to eye disease.

The accuracy of some apps in detecting disease has led some to speculate that smartphones could one day be used to skip primary healthcare and refer patients directly to specialists for immediate treatment.

"I believe that GPs play a very vital role as the first point of contact for people when they become sick or worry about something," Dick Uyttewaal, CEO of the skin cancer-detecting app SkinVision, told IBTimes UK last year. "But there is an awful lot of work that they currently do where they don't add value and that could be replaced by technology.