Researchers invent portable device for common kidney tests

August 23, 2013
UCLA researchers invent portable device for common kidney tests
The smartphone display and portable albumin tester created by the Ozcan Research Group at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. Credit: Ozcan Research Group

(Medical Xpress)—A lightweight and field-portable device invented at UCLA that conducts kidney tests and transmits data through a smartphone attachment may significantly reduce the need for frequent office visits by people with diabetes and others with chronic kidney ailments.

The smartphone-based device was developed in the research lab of Aydogan Ozcan, a professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, and associate director of the California NanoSystems Institute. Weighing about one-third of a pound, the gadget can determine levels of in the patient's urine and transmit the results within seconds. Albumin is a protein in blood that is a sign of danger when found in urine. 

Ozcan's lab also developed the opto-mechanical phone attachment, disposable test tubes, Android app and software to transmit the data. The research was published this month by the peer-reviewed journal Lab on a Chip.

"Albumin testing is frequently done to assess , especially for ," Ozcan said. "This device provides an extremely convenient platform for chronic patients at home or in remote locations where cell phones work."

Patients at risk for diabetes, and other ailments must regularly provide fluid samples—sometimes more than one a day—to monitor their health, which requires visits to labs or health centers.

The new device projects beams of visible light through two small fluorescent tubes attached to the device, one containing a control liquid and the other a urine sample mixed with . The smartphone camera captures the fluorescent light after it passes through an additional lens. 

An Android application then processes the raw images in less than one second and the device transmits the test results to a database or . The test, which measures albumin concentration in urine, is accurate to within less than 10 micrograms per milliliter, according to the research, well within accepted clinical standards used in diagnosing conditions such as microalbuminuria, the excretion of albumin in urine.

The time it takes to conduct a test, including preparation of a sample using a small syringe to inject the urine into a fluorescent tube, is about five minutes. Ozcan estimates that the device—for which his lab also has developed an iPhone app—could be produced commercially for $50 to $100 per unit.

Explore further: Uric acid may provide early clues to diabetic kidney disease

Related Stories

Uric acid may provide early clues to diabetic kidney disease

March 18, 2008

For patients with type 1 diabetes, increased levels of uric acid in the blood may be an early sign of diabetic kidney disease—appearing before any significant change in urine albumin level, the standard screening test, ...

n-3 PUFA may reduce markers of kidney disease in T2DM

February 8, 2013

(HealthDay)—In patients with type 2 diabetes and evidence of kidney injury, supplementation with n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) does not reduce urine albumin excretion but is associated with a reduction ...

Cell phone camera photographs microscopic cell samples

April 11, 2013

On April 11th JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) will publish a new video article by Dr. Aydogan Ozcan demonstrating how a cell phone camera can capture images from a fluorescent microscope and flow cytometer, which ...

Recommended for you

In sub-Saharan Africa, cancer can be an infectious disease

August 26, 2016

In 1963, Irish surgeon Denis Parson Burkitt airmailed samples of an unusual jaw tumor found in Ugandan children to his colleague, Anthony Epstein, at Middlesex Hospital in London. Epstein, an expert in chicken viruses and ...

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

August 25, 2016

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a study by Yale researchers. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. ...

Team discovers how Zika virus causes fetal brain damage

August 24, 2016

Infection by the Zika virus diverts a key protein necessary for neural cell division in the developing human fetus, thereby causing the birth defect microcephaly, a team of Yale scientists reported Aug. 24 in the journal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.