“There’s an app for that!” this particular sentence now holds even true for low cost STD tests on smartphones. To be technically correct, there’s an app and a microfluidic dongle that test for HIV and syphilis in less than 15 minutes.
Lead by Samuel K. Sia who earlier were responsible for the mChip. The Columbia University researchers combined treponemal-specific antibody and non-treponemal antibody test for syphilis and basic ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) test for HIV in a microfluidic channel. Dongle costs around $34 to manufacture with replacable cartridges. Its way cheaper than the lowest ELISA machine at $18,000 and each test cost just pennies. Testing is similar to monitoring blood glucose, using a drop of blood on the cartridge and releasing reagents. Test takes 15 minutes and requires just the tiny amount of power that comes from the audio jack.
High Error Rates a Concern
The device has undergone field trials in Rwanda with a 96 people trial. However, its efficiency is bit of a concern at this stage with many false positives and false negatives. Samuel and the other researcher’s next step is to improve its accuracy and add more diseases to its list of diagnostic abilities.