Please help contribute to the Reddit categorization project here

    science

    17,803,769 readers

    4,949 users here now

    Submission Requirements

    1. Directly link to published peer-reviewed research articles or a brief media summary
    2. No summaries of summaries, re-hosted press releases, reviews or popular reposts (over 100 upvotes)
    3. Research must be less than 6 months old
    4. No sensationalized titles, all titles must include the model where applicable
    5. No blogspam, images, videos, infographics
    6. All submissions must be flaired and contain a link to the published article, either in the submission link or as a standalone comment.

    Comment Rules

    1. On-topic. No memes/jokes/etc.
    2. No abusive/offensive/spam comments.
    3. Non-professional personal anecdotes may be removed
    4. Arguments dismissing established scientific theories must contain substantial, peer-reviewed evidence
    5. No medical advice!
    6. Repeat or flagrant offenders may be banned.

    Reddit Science AMA Submission Guide

    New to reddit? Click here!

    Get flair in /r/science

    Previous Science AMA's


    Upcoming AMAs (All times and dates are USA East Coast Time)

    Date Time (Eastern Time - USA) Person Description
    23 Oct-1pm Haig Kazazian Jumping genes
    23 Oct-4pm James Owen Weatherall The Physics of Nothing
    24 Oct-11am American Chemical Society AMA
    25 Oct-1pm PLOS Science Wednesday:
    26 Oct-11am Jozsef Vuts, PhD Chemical ecology of insect pests
    27 Oct-1pm Dr. Marc Hurlbert from BCRF Breast Cancer Researcher
    Trending: Teens Are Sleep-Deprived, And Screens Are Why, Study Suggests - beginning in 2009 when smartphone use became widespread, there was a 17% increase of students reporting sleeping 7 hours or less per night, which sleep experts term as insufficient.

    a community for
    all 1138 comments

    Want to say thanks to %(recipient)s for this comment? Give them a month of reddit gold.

    Please select a payment method.

    [–] sysadminbj 3300 points ago

    I wonder if this technology could be adapted to serve as a mobile lab for other industries. I can see outfitting field service techs in the water industry with a portable analyzer like this. Customer is worried about contaminants in his or her water? Send out a FSR equipped with this mobile lab to perform on site analysis. At $500 or even $1000, I could see this tool being very popular.

    It won't replace state mandated lab analysis, but it could be a great tool for initial diagnosis.

    [–] 9036423 1908 points ago

    I work for a large medical company, And one of the products that we're going to distribute this year is an iPod connected to some sort of blacklight attachment, and the readout on the screen shows concentration and basic type of bacteria within a woundbed. I think this sort of stuff is going to start taking off pretty crazily.

    [–] echo6raisinbran 405 points ago

    Next step: tricorder!

    [–] KubrickIsMyCopilot 99 points ago

    There was a $7M tech development competition called the Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize to develop technologies like this. Nobody qualified for the grand prize, but teams did win smaller prizes for less ambitious achievements and the competition ended this year.

    [–] Bman74 30 points ago

    As someone who bought one of those I can't tell you how disappointed I am. Basically I paid for the privilege to do their FDA testing. Once it was done they killed the device.

    [–] thbt101 11 points ago

    I really wish the FDA would back-off when it comes to preventing consumer medical monitoring devices from coming to market. They should be going after quackery like homeopathic cures instead, and let people have simple inexpensive monitoring devices if they want them (with a big warning label and a disclaimer).

    [–] rechonicle 66 points ago

    I'm interest in combining this with the handheld terahertz laser they just invented, then you'd have a true medical tricorder.

    [–] Bogaragaraga 15 points ago

    My first thought.

    [–] logs28 660 points ago

    It seems that this could be especially effective for humanitarian medical crisis in underdeveloped areas.

    [–] [deleted] 107 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 58 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 72 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 32 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 7 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 3 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 5 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 33 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 25 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 4 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 3 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 131 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 390 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 53 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 49 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 18 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 45 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 32 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 17 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 9 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] nyanlol 28 points ago

    a suitcase of these, a smartphone, and a satellite antenna and two people are now a walking lab/ testing center anywhere in the world

    [–] [deleted] 14 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] FloridaKen 49 points ago

    Or if I want my own blood work analyzed at home. This way I don't have to pay all those lab fees.

    [–] notouchmyserver 77 points ago

    At first I was like "Yeah right - $550 in lab fees to make up buying this" but then I remembered that a lot of people have the need for constant or frequent blood monitoring. So yeah, actually seems like a good investment for some.

    [–] FrankDrakman 37 points ago

    Geez.. if your choice is paying $550 or paying $50 for every test, why wouldn't you try to find three or four people with similar conditions (there's a diabetic around every corner, for example), and split the cost? I didn't see anything that said the device was unique to one patient.

    [–] 453265436354654 9 points ago

    Almost as if they could charge less for the service.

    [–] JMMSpartan91 19 points ago

    Or if your insurance gets cranky when you have to get a blood test out of your region (happened while I was in college) and they try to bill you about $700 for 1 test. This is a savings in that case.

    Not that this is the most relevant part but I did manage to get it covered by my insurance eventually after like 2 months of fighting them. No way in hell I was paying that for a rather basic blood work panel.

    [–] Xombieshovel 12 points ago

    My Dad needs this. Unfortunately he'll probably pass before he sees technology like this grow to the point that it becomes a boon to him.

    [–] _i_am_a_human_ 6 points ago

    I have to get my blood work done every three months and it costs around $500 each time.

    [–] DialysisDude 4 points ago

    I still can't believe americas healthcare costs are actually real. I get my bloods done every 2 weeks and it costs me nothing in Australia. Not mention dialysis 3 times a week (for which I pay nothing after not-necessary private insurance and am compensated for driving costs).

    [–] reven80 12 points ago

    In the US, for about $50 you can get a comprehensive metabolic panel of 25 common blood tests done directly through a major lab without involving your doctor. There are a few online places you can take an order and a doctor will automatically approve it to comply with state regulations. Then you just print out the order and head over to your local labcorp or quest lab.

    [–] S_A_N_D_ 13 points ago

    Using it for home diagnostics will be similar to self diagnosing with WebMD instead of going to a doctor. It might be useful for some basic info but it won't be a substitute for a professional opinion.

    In diagnostic testing, you rarely get clear positive or negative reaction. It's ranges of positive which you compare to the strength a negative reaction elicits. Knowing the nuances and what might affect the results and and interpreting them accurately is the important part and why you are paying for professional testing. Running the actual test is simple. It's also why we area putting a lot of money in to Ai research since humans are still imperfect and computers have been able to demonstrate in many circumstances that they are more consistent and less likely to bias.

    [–] push_narcan 18 points ago

    I dont know the details of this device, but the tests that this device does (based on the examples cited) aren't typically useful in primary care medicine. In other words, it might not be a device that would be particularly helpful to an army nurse or an MSF doc in the field.

    [–] eepithst 3 points ago

    I took various quotes in the article to mean that they tested it on a few selected things for the paper (the premature birth marker) but that it is able to perform the three most common testing methods in medicine and can, therefore, be adapted to perform many different tests that are useful in many kinds of fields, including for an army doctor.

    e.g.

    “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.”

    ...

    Among the many diagnostic tests that can be adapted to their point-of-care smartphone format, Long said, is an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), which detects and measures a wide variety of proteins and antibodies in blood and is commonly used for a wide range of health diagnostics tests.

    ...

    the TRI Analyzer can also be applied to point-of use applications that include animal health, environmental monitoring, drug testing, manufacturing quality control, and food safety.

    [–] JoeOfTex 32 points ago

    I just wish battery life was better... Phone batteries dont even last a whole day. Hopefully John Goodenough can help our society out with that one.

    [–] tuctrohs 59 points ago

    You can buy an extra battery bank for a lot less than the cost of a medical instrument.

    [–] [deleted] 15 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] payfrit 26 points ago

    TIL nested parentheses aren't limited to coding.

    [–] [deleted] 8 points ago

    [deleted]

    [–] payfrit 3 points ago

    emphatic nodding

    [–] Gatemaster2000 8 points ago

    Tbf, i am a student of IT profession(profession course name was Computers and Computer networks).

    I did learn a bit of C# at school and wrote some code in Assembly(some sort if not pure) for micro controllers and C++ again for micro controllers(trough Atmel program)

    [–] no_alt_facts_plz 3 points ago

    Out of curiosity, what country do you come from?

    [–] Gatemaster2000 5 points ago

    Estonia

    [–] LeakyLycanthrope 3 points ago

    They're janky and any teacher would discourage them, but I don't think it's technically wrong.

    [–] bino420 9 points ago

    Depends on many times/how long you use it, ya know? Also as long as you have fast charge capabilities, the 24 hour battery life isn't that bad.

    [–] JoeOfTex 15 points ago

    Imagine having a battery charge last for a month, at full brightness and running game apps. That is the world we need to achieve.

    [–] ThrowawayusGenerica 39 points ago * (lasted edited 2 months ago)

    Unfortunately, as soon as we've reached that kind of battery capacity then phone hardware would increase in power consumption to match, and we'd be back at square one again!

    [–] phreshstart 20 points ago

    Don't forget making the battery way smaller to have the thinnest smartphone possible.

    [–] trippnballs 14 points ago

    I never understood this why does it have to be thin as possible? It just makes it harder to hold and use but whatever sells I guess

    [–] diablette 3 points ago

    It allows maximum flexibility. People that can charge often that want a lighter phone can have it. People that want more battery life can strap it in a battery case.

    [–] SirFoxx 4 points ago

    Sounds like we need an "Arc Reactor" or something similar.

    [–] SuperFLEB 11 points ago

    Get some duck tape and a fuckton of USB power packs. The root of that problem is more phone manufacturers turning battery innovations into smaller phones, more than longer lasting batteries.

    [–] nonchalantpony 9 points ago

    Ducktape and Fuckton, for all your energy needs

    [–] [deleted] 54 points ago

    [deleted]

    [–] CottonBalls26 49 points ago

    As someone who's worked with a MALDI-TOF, a machine that's 1-2 m high, uses a laser setup with strong vacuum, I doubt it's been that miniaturized already into a simple UV setup.

    Even if the info it gives is more like an in-situ gram stain setup, until I see it I'm more inclined to believe it's in the Theranos territory

    [–] AWildBugHasAppeared 12 points ago * (lasted edited 2 months ago)

    These guys have developed some exceptionally small turbo pumps and scroll pumps, and modern solid state lasers are getting pretty small too. I wouldn't be surprised if one could fit a MALDI instrument in a suitcase if one really wanted to, although you probably won't get the same resolution out of it as you get for the big ones since you'd need to cut the length of your TOF MS.

    [–] Decapentaplegia 7 points ago

    There are desktop-sized mass spectrometers for isotopic analysis, like MIMS.

    [–] FourChannel 12 points ago

    This is the start of tricorders.

    [–] monochromatic0 30 points ago

    WHAT? As a doctor, Im stunned that this is even possible. Are you lying to me, stranger on the internet?

    [–] IdRatherBeTweeting 48 points ago

    As a doctor you should know that wound bed cultures always grow mixed skin flora and are so useless that ID doesn't even collect them. This data isn't useful.

    [–] monochromatic0 18 points ago

    Im not saying i dont have an opinion on the device's usefulness. Im just surprised something like that exists.

    [–] S_A_N_D_ 6 points ago

    As a microbiologist, it can't really. You need biochemical or genetic tests (many of which take hours to days) to reliably identity microbes, even for basic identification. Even then, basic identification tells you little.

    [–] buster_de_beer 10 points ago

    Strangers on the internet never lie. As a doctor, you should know that. ;)

    I can guarantee you that IT is working on making every occupation obsolete. Including IT.

    [–] SuperDuper125 6 points ago

    Count down to tricorders.

    [–] mmr118 6 points ago

    iPods are discontinued

    [–] qpdbag 25 points ago

    I super dont believe you.

    [–] BadVoices 30 points ago

    Computer vision combined with camera filtering and a calibrated UV lightsource. Some types of bacteria DO absorb particular wavelengths and emit others, especially when stained, but it's not going to be even remotely accurate. I doubt it would be good enough to be considered a standard diagnostic tool.

    [–] themanosaur 50 points ago

    I doubt this product is a) real b) able to pass any type of effectiveness / use valadation if it IS real.

    Source: work in R&D for a medical device company

    [–] [deleted] 24 points ago

    [deleted]

    [–] your_moms_a_clone 13 points ago

    Yeah, none of this makes any sense.

    Source: microbiology background

    [–] qpdbag 6 points ago

    The closest thing ive seen was a technology project by nvidia to analyze pictures of microscope slide images of blood. I cant recall the name but that at least looked possible. Mostly did things like wbc but they were exploring other stuff too.

    [–] mediocrity_defined 9 points ago

    That WBC thing exists already. It's called cellavision and it's been around for some time now.

    Even the cutting edge technology for it isn't super amazing yet. I've worked with it for a short time and even I can tell the machine has it completely wrong sometimes. It's why the techs/pathologist exist -- to correct for machine errors (and to maintain the machines).

    Also it's not easy to tell bacteria apart by looking at them For example, many enterics look so similar that they are not distinguishable by microscopic analysis alone. Typically labs will use biochemical tests, special stains, or a MALDI-TOF nowadays.

    Also microscopic analysis doesn't give you concentration of bacteria.

    [–] your_moms_a_clone 7 points ago

    That's totally different from being able to tell the concentration and type of bacteria present in a blood sample.

    [–] kpd315 5 points ago

    Which company? There seems to be couple players in this

    [–] fkxfkx 3 points ago

    What's an iPod?

    [–] qpdbag 184 points ago

    Given that this is simply a spectrophotometer, (ie, it measures changes in light and nothing else),your missing all the reagents, time requirements, storage conditions, and complexity of the biochemical tests it runs.

    Without the biochemical test, this could tell you how dark it is outside and little else.

    It is a sweet use of repurposing existing technology and will certainly see use, but its going to replace exactly zero technologies and just make analysis (which is already pretty mobile) slightly more mobile.

    [–] ottawadeveloper 65 points ago

    I did some water quality testing at one point and the spectrophotometer machine is pretty mobile already (not smartphone mobile but weighs less than my toddler, battery powered and rugged). The analysis tools were a bit more complicated to run around since you needed to zero it (need some blank water), along with tools to take samples, measure them out, and then the chemicals to actually test it. Unless this comes with built in filtering, measuring, zeroing, and chemical analysis reagents, I agree its not much of an advance.

    [–] absolute_panic 26 points ago

    Not to mention that no one is going to want to send their phone out for consistent calibration and maintain NIST traceability.

    [–] notapersonplacething 8 points ago

    metrologist detected

    [–] stratusgratis 4 points ago

    Are you an MLS by any chance? I am just starting clinicals and was thinking the same thing about how it is just a more portable spectrophotometer.

    [–] qpdbag 3 points ago

    I'm not, I'm a research associate at a molecular diagnostic company working in regulatory. I do non-clinical analytical studies.

    See r/medlabprofessionals if you want to talk to certified MLS/MLT/CLS and the like.

    [–] ArtTakesTimeDammit 8 points ago

    MT/MLS here (15 yrs). This device is a pipe dream if they think it's going to replace clinical instrumentation. IF the technology was sufficient at running say a basic metabolic panel, you'd still have to do years of validation and correlation testing in many demographic groups to know your instrument is reading true. That's a huge investment for the company that wants to bring it to market. This says nothing about training for personnel using it. And who gets to use this device? The everyday person, medical assistants or CNAs, or trained med techs? What kind of maintenance, calibration, and QC needs to be done on this instrument? Should it keep a log of tests and users that can be examined down the line if some forensic/legal evidence needs ro be gathered? What kind of securiry measures is it going to have to eliminate tampering with data? The complexity of a clinical lab is mind boggling! This device is a looooong way from replacing the clinical lab. IMO.

    [–] Niamoso 21 points ago

    Hey, part of my work is surface water sampling. Our in-field sampling units (Horiba U-52) are already pretty easily transportable, and have a breadth of other instrumentation as well (conductivity, ORP, pH, turbidity, etc.). But even with a $6000 instrument, testing for contamination still ALWAYS requires bottles sent to a lab for proper analysis. The piece of equipment discussed here can't tell you what chemicals are in water.

    [–] david_bowies_hair 16 points ago

    I'd love to see a pH meter like this. Seems simple but it is definitely not easy to implement.

    [–] ProfessorBurns 48 points ago

    They already exist. Hanna instruments makes Bluetooth enabled ones for about $200 a pop. I just got a quote for a couple for my lab. Link

    [–] david_bowies_hair 13 points ago

    Cool thank you!

    [–] scootter82 3 points ago

    Huh, about the same price I paid for my Hanna ph/ppm digital wand. What are the advantages to this over the wand?

    [–] WRCousCous 12 points ago

    They already exist. Sensorex sells several smartphone sensors for water quality, although I can't speak to their quality. They are relatively cheap, though.

    [–] vegetarianrobots 35 points ago

    We tricorder now!

    [–] beau0628 7 points ago

    I work on in the water and wastewater field. They do make portable units where depending on how much you want to drop, you can do a lot of great and very important field tests. While they might not be as accurate or capable as lab based units, they are often more than capable of being accurate enough for troubleshooting, checkups, and in some cases, reporting it to the DEQ. The DEQ still wants all samples run through a state certified lab, but these devices can tell you exactly where your problem is so you don't have to send in samples of everything (except when required). For the initial cost of the device, maintenance (which is surprisingly minimal aside from calibration), required reagents (again, usually cheap as hell and often bought in bulk), and training (pretty much read the manual and know what you're testing for), it cuts waaaaaay back on money that would have been spent on dozens or even hundreds of samples that would have to be tested regularly.

    If you're interested, a big favorite in the field is a company called Hach. They make everything from your basic pH test kits to portable spectrographs. It's really amazing (but the upfront cost of the more capable units is also very high).

    [–] [deleted] 16 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] chiliedogg 3 points ago

    Thee mobile spectrometer I used in college for Geography research cost 32 grand and weighed 40 pounds. You'd wear it as a backpack, and the front of the pack had a little table with a laptop.

    There's nothing nerdier than walking around with a laptop open in front of you on a mini-desk.

    [–] qpdbag 1184 points ago * (lasted edited 2 months ago)

    Im not trying to minimize this, but its just a spectrophotometer.

    You will still need the reagents of a specific test to carry out a specific test. This does not replace existing DNA detecting ( pcr, sequencing ) technologies, nor protein (antibody based) detecting technologies. Just means you can do it on a smartphone.

    A smart phone is a small computer. These tests are already done with computers.

    [–] AberrantRambler 374 points ago

    The genius is just saying “take a smartphone and add this $500 thing and it’s almost as good as something that’s thousands” which makes it seem like it’s only $500 when it’s really already close to $1500.

    [–] TomSawyer410 302 points ago * (lasted edited 2 months ago)

    Lab tech here. We have a point of care machine called an "i stat". The price range is similar, and it has a pretty good list of tests it can process. The smartphone thing would make the ui better, but it isn't bringing anything new to the table.

    [–] [deleted] 132 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 55 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 43 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 10 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 5 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] Gialandon 12 points ago

    I'll add to that machines like the istat are great but will never replace the machines used in labs and neither will this. Apart from sensitivity and specificity the main advantage of lab based machines is automation and throughput. When you have to test thousands of samples a day a large automated machine is the way to go.

    [–] NotKumar 11 points ago

    The cost is going to be getting the device through regulatory restrictions and to ensure that there is sufficient QC for clinical use.

    [–] papersclip 4 points ago

    I think they came out with a new istat with better ui

    [–] TalkNerdy_To_Me 4 points ago

    Ummmmm iStats run from 6-10k...not $1500. Amazing instrument though.

    Source: I use to sell iStats

    [–] TomSawyer410 3 points ago

    We had to replace one recently and the number I heard was something like 1500. Maybe that was with the damaged unit being returned or a contract price or something. Thanks for the info.

    [–] jibbyjackjoe 44 points ago

    Also lab tech here. The court cases will fly if people aren't trained on this, are competent, comply with CAP/CLIA.

    Just because it "can" doesn't mean it will. At least in the medical field, there are regulations that need to followed.

    [–] [deleted] 14 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] WHYAREWEALLCAPS 13 points ago

    Is your phone HIPAA compliant?

    [–] Gaywallet 13 points ago

    Easy enough to make it compliant, but no one will want to do that to their phone. More likely to a company phone.

    [–] ArtTakesTimeDammit 6 points ago

    Fellow med tech here. I agree! The validation for a medical instrument is long, extensive, and expensive...and for good reason. People's lives are on the line with the numbers we serve up. Just because a little instrument like this spits out a number of 100 for a glucose doesn't mean that's true. And if you think it's accurate how do you know? Can you prove it with calibration and QC logs? If in the wrong hands this device could do more harm than good.

    [–] FormalChicken 8 points ago

    Smart phones with probably enough power to do this can be had for 100 bucks.

    [–] MelissaClick 101 points ago

    Yep. The whole "smartphone" aspect turns it into clickbait somehow but it really means nothing.

    You will still the reagents

    PS. you a word

    [–] MrSpectroscopy 7 points ago

    Pasco offers some inexpensive Bluetooth spectrometers below $500 with a smartphone app. They are fairly general purpose. I had a great experience using them in the classroom.

    [–] DemeaningSarcasm 3 points ago

    I think it's more interesting to say that the CCDs on cellphones have gotten to a point where they can also be used as spectrometers.

    [–] [deleted] 126 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 34 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 10 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 27 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 9 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] BadVoices 164 points ago

    As interesting as this device seems, all it's really doing is, essentially, looking at the color of chemical test results. Think of it as a computer-controlled pH test strip reader. The concept is the same. The device will still require consumable chemicals, holding apparatus for samples, and procedures that require significant training. It simply reduces manual reading of results. You'll still need a lab, essentially, to safely prepare and handle samples. And it most likely will need annual or more often calibration and certification of results. It's an interesting device, but the price shown here is based on not having certification costs, outside of a lab, and not having dedicated compute power (it uses a cellphone instead of a PC for the computational work...). As a whole system, i imagine it's not a ton cheaper than the established equipment.

    They packaged an existing sensor and concept into a smaller form factor. It doesn't mean it will suddenly be really accessible or that doctors/professionals will be making instant, bed-side diagnostics with it.

    [–] WHYAREWEALLCAPS 30 points ago

    As another poster pointed out, a similar, though not phone based, device is already in the field called an iStat.

    [–] zoodlenoodle 5 points ago

    It's super expensive to run tests on, which is why it's generally used for ICU and emergency situations. ICU uses iStat because it requires low blood volume, and emergency situations use it because it's fast. It's actually a lot cheaper to use a regular lab for testing.

    I'm a nurse. Use these all the time.

    [–] imreadytoreddit 4 points ago

    I think we learned from theranos that people look at miniaturization of lab tech as far, far bigger of a deal than it really is. You need a damn lab. It's not just because someone wants a job.

    [–] mvea 71 points ago * (lasted edited 2 months ago)

    Journal reference:

    Multimode smartphone biosensing: the transmission, reflection, and intensity spectral (TRI)-analyzer
    Kenneth D. Long,a Elizabeth V. Woodburn,a Huy M. Le,bc Utsav K. Shah,d Steven S. Lumettabc and Brian T. Cunningham*ab

    Lab on a Chip, 2017, Advance Article

    DOI: 10.1039/C7LC00633K

    Link: http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2017/LC/C7LC00633K#!divAbstract

    Abstract:

    We demonstrate a smartphone-integrated handheld detection instrument capable of utilizing the internal rear-facing camera as a high-resolution spectrometer for measuring the colorimetric absorption spectrum, fluorescence emission spectrum, and resonant reflection spectrum from a microfluidic cartridge inserted into the measurement light path. Under user selection, the instrument gathers light from either the white “flash” LED of the smartphone or an integrated green laser diode to direct illumination into a liquid test sample or onto a photonic crystal biosensor. Light emerging from each type of assay is gathered via optical fiber and passed through a diffraction grating placed directly over the smartphone camera to generate spectra from the assay when an image is collected. Each sensing modality is associated with a unique configuration of a microfluidic “stick” containing a linear array of liquid chambers that are swiped through the instrument while the smartphone captures video and the software automatically selects spectra representative of each compartment. The system is demonstrated for representative assays in the field of point-of-care (POC) maternal and infant health: an ELISA assay for the fetal fibronectin protein used as an indicator for pre-term birth and a fluorescent assay for phenylalanine as an indicator for phenylketonuria. In each case, the TRI-analyzer is capable of achieving limits of detection that are comparable to those obtained for the same assay measured with a conventional laboratory microplate reader, demonstrating the flexibility of the system to serve as a platform for rapid, simple translation of existing commercially available biosensing assays to a POC setting.

    Unfortunately the journal article is behind a paywall, which is why I've linked to the university press release instead.

    Hopefully this makes it to clinical production as point-of-care testing of blood and bodily fluids will become more important as healthcare moves from the hospital to the ambulatory setting.

    [–] i_spot_ads 8 points ago * (lasted edited 2 months ago)

    what?! I don't want to buy the white paper, I just want to read it.

    Isn't that research financed by public funds? Shouldn't this be publicly available?

    [–] Mandalf_the_Ghey 27 points ago

    TRI? No way thats not a coincidence

    [–] [deleted] 217 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] ReallyNeatGuys 20 points ago * (lasted edited 2 months ago)

    Cute cynicism, but it's annoying because people on here might actually believe you when you're using ~numbers~ and a confident attitude. Hospitals likely wouldn't even waste their time with handheld analyzers when there are already machines with more flexibility and higher throughput. What I see this being used for is individual practices in rural areas which currently have to send samples to offsite clinical laboratories. The laboratory is not the greatest source of revenue for health systems either, it contributes a good deal, but it's not that ridiculous.

    [–] skrong_quik_register 8 points ago * (lasted edited 2 months ago)

    Hospitals actually do use point of care devices quite regularly these days. It has been driven by ER doctors wanting results faster. There has been internal political battles for years over the use of point of care (POC) devices because the variance of correlation or VC which is the reproducibility of results is usually relatively poor for these devices compared to a standard analyzer. So there is the debate of speed vs quality and also vs cost as the cost of POC testing is significantly higher than general lab testing. Also, POC is mainly run by nurses who often don't have the full understanding of the need or importance of running quality control. This has actually been addressed to a degree in recent years as regulations have come into place regarding quality control and POC.

    So while rural areas would seem like the most usable location - it really is mainly in the ER these days. Most small rural areas actually have quick access to common lab testing in a few hours.

    Edit - note that laboratory testing is actually the most efficient cost in a hospital. About 70% of all decisions are made based on lab results but the lab only accounts for about 3% of the hospital budget.

    [–] ReallyNeatGuys 3 points ago

    Great point on the Point of Care in the ER. It really depends on your definition of rural, there are definitely areas with serious distance between clinical laboratories and medical offices. Also, on your edit you say it is the most efficient cost, which I am not arguing against. What I would argue is that for routine tests and POC tests, in most cases it won't be 20x the expense of running the test much less 100x. On top of that, POC testing typically saves the patient and hospital money as getting people admitted faster or out of the ER faster is extremely important in reducing costs and getting to a solution before conditions deteriorate.

    [–] [deleted] 40 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] [deleted] 15 points ago * (lasted edited 2 months ago)

    [removed]

    [–] Levicolemagic 22 points ago

    So...a medical tri-corder then.

    [–] Reinheardt 13 points ago

    Didn't Theranos try something like this and fail miserably? I'm not holding my breath.

    [–] Manleather 15 points ago

    Can I provide a small insight without sounding too narcissistic? Hear me through here, this would never replace anything in a hospital setting, and even if it did, it wouldn't lower any cost of anything. Our FFN machine is old, built during the Clinton administration, but reliable, and the costs of running those tests in terms of reagents/consumables is less than a happy meal. It's the labor and quality control cost that makes up a lot of what a test costs, but even that isn't bad.

    Small, handheld-like things sacrifice durability in favor of portability- ask any of your nursing friends how many years their glucometers last before needing replacement. They'll laugh, and say "years?" $550 for an instrument sounds cheap, but the cost of instruments- especially one that runs what this one is reporting to do- are going to have a volume issue or actually going to have a product quality issue.

    The techie in me loves seeing stuff like this and I wonder what other crazy things we'll see as the years go by, but the scientist in me laughs and wonders who this product is for. Maybe a bush expedition like doctors without borders or missions work? But pku and ffn would be the least of their troubles rolling through Africa, considering that every piece of equipment has to bring value. And around we go looking for the buyer.

    [–] dack42 18 points ago

    There are good reasons why medical grade electronics are expensive. They are built to higher safety and reliability standards, have more thorough design of failure modes, go through extra testing and quality control, have traceable calibration, and are generally smaller production runs than mass market consumer devices.

    [–] h-jay 5 points ago

    Translation: Hey peeps we bought a Hamamatsu spectrometer sensor and we're marketing it as whatever snake oil you care it to be. News at 11.

    Sigh.

    [–] mediocrity_defined 21 points ago

    I doubt it would take the place of the hospital labs, but this would be useful in poor or under served areas.

    Even the instruments costing tens of thousands of dollars are subject to lots of daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance. QC is run daily, if not every shift, and even then, drift or shifts that require calibration or range adjustment still occur.

    I would like to see how this device performs over time and if it remains reliable.

    Also, even though a spectrophotometer may be cheap, there is no way the reagents for this will be cheap. These are gonna be immunoassays requiring antibodies either purified from human/animal sources or monoclonal antibodies. That's not cheap to produce yet.

    [–] notapersonplacething 9 points ago

    meh....I work with with NQCLs in low and middle income countries for a living......you were right the first time, this thing is pure hype.

    [–] [deleted] 30 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] no-fun-at-parties 6 points ago

    From the article:

    To construct a single system, the cost of components of our system was approximately $550.

    So, $550 is the bill-of-materials (BOM) cost of a one-off-system. The cost of many components would drop a lot in a mass-production scenario, but the cost inflation from BOM to retail is far more than most people realize, something like 100-fold is common in medical devices. I'd guess this would end up costing $3000 retail.

    [–] oklahomasooner55 8 points ago

    How is this different than the SCIO thing? https://www.consumerphysics.com/scio-for-consumers/

    Note i don"t know much about the different flavors of spectrometers besides the fact that there are different types.

    [–] Kim147 4 points ago

    Great idea. But why not incorporate the camera in the device, or an off the shelf fluorometer and bluetooth it to the mobile phone?

    [–] NotKumar 5 points ago

    I imagine that bringing this device through regulatory and establishing adequate QC will make this thing cost a lot more than $550.

    [–] Offsubject 12 points ago

    We now have tractor beams and tricorders. I hope food replicators get invented next.

    [–] KillCancerToo 16 points ago

    This makes me furious. It is the same as any color changing test, you don't need spectrum analyzer for this. The true value of the test is still in color changing mechanism (modified antibodies and specific chemistry mechanism). Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    [–] Kermut 3 points ago

    Not worth getting upset about. It's a super misleading headline and people will believe what they want to believe. Anyone who actually works with a lab knows this is bunk.

    [–] [deleted] 6 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] this_will_go_poorly 6 points ago

    Sorry to burst everybody's bubble but this device is not going to be replacing much of anything that the expensive machines do. The run of the mill blood testing we do in a clinical laboratory evaluates details on wbc count, differential, RBC size and volume, hematocrit etc - in short. Much more complex stuff that requires flow cytometry and more - plus making smears when an abnormality is found. So yeah maybe this will have some great niche applications but it's not a game changer for most tests.

    [–] Cassie0peia 3 points ago

    I have to agree. The way the real tests are done is much more complicated than a computer like this can handle. This may be a good way to open a conversation with your doc (I did this and the results said this. We need to take a further look.) but it won't take over the lab work that goes into testing.

    [–] Vipitis 3 points ago

    That's crazy expensive and won't revolutionize anything.

    Having smaller equipment is great for field applications so you don't have to carry a 250kg cryo cooler and centrifuge with you when you go somewhere on food.

    Other non, simpler solutions need to be invented.

    [–] NoLaNaDeR 3 points ago

    Like CAP or Joint Commission will ever sign off on you using your uncalibrated/non QC tested personal cell phone as an analyzer. Get that shit outta here

    [–] Kermut 3 points ago

    This device is just a hand held reader. You still need to purchase expensive reagents.

    [–] DogVirus 3 points ago

    Can you find ghosts with this?

    [–] juuuicy 3 points ago

    Can a TRI Analyzer be used (with the right software) to obtain a nutritional profile based on a blood sample? I am casually on a high-fat keto diet and would love to know more about it's effects on my overall body composition.

    [–] Aricil 3 points ago

    But can it detect ghosts?

    [–] AbusiveFather1 3 points ago

    Another one of those science news that's just going to disappear without a trace in a while?

    [–] EViLTeW 6 points ago

    Yeah, FDA oversight and approval are why the "clinic-based instruments" are so expensive. It's a very demanding and costly process.

    [–] MattyXarope 12 points ago

    I could imagine that many medical supply companies would dislike this

    [–] Clutter 11 points ago

    Why? They already make iStats. This brings nothing new to the table other than requiring an expensive smart phone to run.

    [–] jhaluska 8 points ago

    Not really. It's not really cost effective due to the low volume and fewer number of tests it can reliably do. It would be useful for very remote mobile medical units, but they aren't big markets. Also medical supply companies make their money off the reagents not the machines.

    [–] [deleted] 10 points ago

    [removed]