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In a potential game changer for the health care industry, a new cell phone app and lab kit now allow a smartphone to identify bacteria from patients anywhere in the world. With the new app, doctors will be able to diagnose diseases and prescribe the appropriate antibiotic within a one-hour office visit, meaning faster recovery — and lower treatment costs — for patients.Developed by a research team of UC Santa Barbara scientists and colleagues, the study “Smartphone-based pathogen diagnosis in urinary sepsis patients” was published in the journal EbioMedicine. The detection system succeeded in achieving rapid diagnosis of urinary tract infections — among the most common type of infection globally. The app uses a smartphone’s camera to measure a chemical reaction and determines a diagnosis in about an hour — and the simple, low-cost test can be performed in the world’s most remote locations.
The project was led by professors Michael Mahan of UC Santa Barbara and Tom Soh of Stanford, along with Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital physicians Jeffrey Fried, M.D. and Lynn Fitzgibbons, M.D. Additional collaborators include UCSB scientists Lucien Barnes, Douglas Heithoff, Scott Mahan, Gary Fox and Jamey Marth — who is also also a professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) — as well as Cottage Hospital scientists Andrea Zambrano, M.D., and Jane Choe.
“This simple test for urinary tract infections can be conducted in a fraction of the time and cost of clinical diagnostics — one hour versus 18 to 28 hours,” lead author Mahan explained. “We believe that this lab test holds exciting potential to bring state-of-the-art diagnostics within easy reach of non-expert users.”
The process is simple and straightforward. A small volume of the patient’s urine sample is collected and analyzed by the smartphone app using the phone’s camera and the diagnostic kit. No additional specialty materials are required.
“This is a great …