A team of researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has developed a lightweight device called the iTube, which attaches to a common cell phone to detect allergens in food samples. The iTube attachment uses the cell phone's built-in camera, along with an accompanying smart-phone application that runs a test with the same high level of sensitivity a laboratory would.
Left: The iTube platform, which utilizes colorimetric assays and a smart phone-based digital reader. Right: A screen capture of the iTube App.
The UCLA team successfully tested the iTube using commercially available cookies, analyzing the samples to determine if they had any harmful amount of peanuts, a potential allergen. Their research was recently published online in the peer-reviewed journal Lab on a Chip and will be featured in a forthcoming print issue of the journal.
Allergen-testing results of various food products, tagged with a time and location stamp, can be uploaded directly from cell phones to iTube servers to create a personalized testing archive, which could provide additional resources for allergic individuals around the world. A statistical allergy database, coupled with geographic information, could be useful for future food-related policies — for example in restaurants, food production and for consumer protection, the researchers said.The Ozcan BioPhotonics Lab is funded by the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the Army Research Office Young Investigator Award, the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award and the National Institutes of Health Director's New Innovator Award.
Matthew Chin | EurekAlert!
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