Tomorrow’s global diagnostic instrument: the telephone?
November 8th, 2007

Scientists at the University of California have been designing a “microsolution to the spread of global disease.” Considering the cost of treating epidemic diseases or diseases like diabetes, it might well pay governments and insurance companies to give away telephones that incorporate inexpensive diagnostic devices.

Using a device that’s roughly the size and price of an upscale cell phone, a team of Berkeley engineering doctoral students hopes to halt the spread of diseases afflicting millions in the developing world.

Dubbed SeroScreen, the handheld instrument will test blood and other bodily fluids for the presence of infection. It will deliver an on-site diagnosis within minutes for influenza, skin infections, mosquito-borne viruses and many other ailments. Because the microdevice is quick, portable and cheap, it could dramatically reduce testing delays and prevent contagious diseases from becoming epidemics in poor and remote regions, the students say.

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