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Prototype iPhone biosensor detects viruses, bacteria, toxins, allergens

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a versatile iPhone-based biosensor that, with about $200 worth of parts, is just as accurate as a $50,000 laboratory spectrophotometer.

The system, consisting of an iPhone cradle and an app, can detect viruses, bacteria, toxins, proteins and even allergens in food using the smartphone’s camera as a spectrometer and the powerful processor to make calculations.

“The technology allows us to take a lot of existing medical tests and do them on a handheld device,” team member Kenneth D. Long, who is working on a medical degree and a Ph.D. in bioengineering at Illinois, tells MobiHealthNews. “We think it’s a very promising technology.”

Team leader Brian Cunningham, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and of bioengineering at the university, started the project about two years ago, and Long joined when he began graduate school last year. They reported initial findings in a recent article in the journal Lab on a Chip – yes there is such a title.

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