URBANA, Ill. ‑ Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a spectrometer that attaches to a smartphone to analyze samples of blood, urine and saliva, as well as clinical instruments.
“Our transmission-reflectance-intensity analyzer is like the Swiss Army knife of biosensing,” said Brian Cunningham, the director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Lab at the University of Illinois, in a statement.
The TRI analyzer uses a smartphone’s camera as a high-performance spectrometer to collect data from an LED light sent through an inserted sample cartridge. The optical components are then arranged in a 3D-printed plastic cradle. In studying the analyzer’s ability to perform a test on detecting the biomarker associated with pre-term birth in pregnant women and a PKU test to detect an enzyme for growth and development, researchers found the results of both tests were comparable in the results reached by conventional lab equipment.
“It’s capable of performing the three most common types of tests in medical diagnostics, so in practice, thousands of already-developed tests could be adapted to it,” Cunningham said.
The TRI Analyzer can measure multiple samples in a single cartridge. The researchers hope the tool can be used in rural areas, where access to care and laboratory testing can be limited.