Wednesday July 18, 2018
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Cellphone-based tech could cut lab visits for blood tests

The portable MELISA weighs less than half a kg, and the researchers believe that it has the potential help older patients suffering chronic conditions and those across the world

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Blood Tests now available on mobile phones.
Blood Tests now available on mobile phones.
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  • Researchers have developed a cellphone-based blood test
  • This can save visits to doctors
  • The technology is called Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)

Researchers have developed a cellphone-based blood test technology that can provide immediate results in the comfort of one’s home or a doctor’s clinic, thereby cutting visits to the laboratory.

In a paper published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics, the researchers detailed a mobile version of the “Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay” (ELISA), the gold standard technique used to detect the presence of an antibody or antigen.

This test will save visits to the hospital. Pixabay

“ELISA is an important technology for biochemical analysis of proteins and hormones and is critical for the diagnosis of many diseases, such as HIV and Lyme Disease,” said corresponding author Anna Pyayt, Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, US.

“But the machines required for the incubation and reading are expensive and bulky,” Pyayt said. Instead of sending patients to a laboratory, the new cellphone-based technology – Mobile Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (MELISA) — allows for the very same test to be conducted in the doctor’s office, clinic or even in a remote area.

Also Read: Blood sodium levels linked to cognition in older adults

“The MELISA allows patients to undergo testing and obtain results at point-of-care,” Pyayt said. The device accurately measures progesterone levels, a key hormone that impacts female fertility and is indicative of some cancers.

It consists of a water bath heater that incubates samples at a target temperature and analyses them via images taken by mobile phone. The device uses colour analysis to determine the RGB (red, green, blue) colour components of each sample. The blue colour component is used for further analysis due to its sensitivity to the changes in progesterone concentration.

blood type
Thi is a revolutionary invention. Pixabay

“It is designed to make biomedical testing simple and affordable. When low cost testing can be integrated with routine clinic visits, this would greatly improve the quality of healthcare and detect worrisome signs earlier,” Pyayt added. The portable MELISA weighs less than half a kg, and the researchers believe that it has the potential help older patients suffering chronic conditions and those across the world. IANS

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HIV Drug Is Not Linked to Depression: Study

A new study of a popular HIV drug could ease concerns about its link to depression

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A doctor draws blood from a man to check for HIV/AIDS at a mobile testing unit in Ndeeba, a suburb in Uganda's capital, Kampala.
A doctor draws blood from a man to check for HIV/AIDS at a mobile testing unit in Ndeeba, a suburb in Uganda's capital, Kampala. VOA

A new study of a popular HIV drug could ease concerns about its link to depression. Researchers in Uganda found that efavirenz, once feared to lead to depression and suicide, did not cause the expected negative side effects in their patients.

Efavirenz is an affordable, once-a-day pill used around the globe to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS. It’s “the treatment of choice” in most of the world, according to Africa Health Research Institute’s Mark Siedner, “especially [in] countries that depend on global aid to treat HIV.”

But some fear that efavirenz may come with a cost.

Some studies in the United States and Europe found the drug increased patients’ risk of depression or suicide, although other studies did not.

The mixed results prompted many doctors in the United States to prescribe more expensive but potentially safer drugs.

Siedner wanted to take another look at the risk of depression, this time in an African population. From 2005 until 2015, he and a team of Ugandan and U.S. doctors tracked 694 patients who took either efavirenz or another antiretroviral medication. They regularly asked the patients whether they experienced depression or suicidal thoughts.

No difference

Their analysis, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed there was no difference between the two treatments. Siedner told VOA, “In other words, efavirenz was not associated with a risk of depression. If anything, there seems to be a signal that potentially it was associated with a decreased risk. But it wasn’t a strong enough [signal] for us to say that.”

The authors also reported that of the 17 participants who died in the course of the study, not a single death was a suicide.

Siedner has two possible explanations for why their findings differed from those in Western countries. “One potential cause is that every single ethnic group in the world, of course, is different, and different in many different ways — different socially, different environmentally, and in this case they may be different genetically.” His team is looking at whether the genes that control metabolism of the drug have a role to play in this story.

HIV Aids is a deadly disease.
HIV virus is Not Linked To Depression. Flickr

A second explanation could be the effectiveness of the drug. Because efavirenz is so potent, it could be keeping people healthier than they expected, so patients are less likely to report negative emotions.

The study is important, said Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, because it pushes back against “the initial observation of suicidal ideation and suicide and depression” as caused by efavirenz. He told VOA, “I think now what you’re seeing is that with these conflicting reports, it’s likely someone will come in [with] the proposal to do a randomized study and take a look. So the story isn’t ended with this paper.”

As more research on the safety of efavirenz is conducted, new and cheaper drugs that might replace it are on the horizon. One of them, dolutegravir, might also pose a risk, however. A study in Botswana found dolutegravir was linked to neural tube defects in embryos, meaning it might not be safe for pregnant women. As always, further research is needed to confirm whether this is a common problem or specific to the population studied in Botswana.

Also read: UNAIDS : World Is At A “Defining Moment” In A Battle Against HIV/AIDS

“I think the whole field right now is in a bit of a holding pattern,” Siedner said when asked about dolutegravir and the future of HIV medication. (VOA)