A team of researchers at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, have created an inexpensive diagnostic device that, they say, can be used by health care workers in the world’s poorest areas to monitor diabetes, detect malaria, discover environmental pollutants, and perform tests currently being done by machines costing thousands of dollars.

This close-up photograph shows an Anopheles minimus mosquito feeding on a human host. (Credit: James Gathany, CDC)

The device, currently in field trials in India, costs about $25 to produce, weighs just two ounces, and can send data over the lower-tech cellphones common in the developing world to distant physicians, who can text instructions back to researchers, government officials tracking outbreaks, and others.

The device focuses on an electrochemical detector, which measures the voltage or current generated in liquids for characteristic signatures of the contents. By applying a small amount of electricity to a drop of blood mixed with a reagent, the device can gauge glucose levels, malaria antigens in blood, and sodium in urine. They also created software that converted the data to audible tones, which can then be sent over the phone’s audio network to a physician, database, or other recipient.

For more information, visit www.medicaldesignbriefs.com/component/content/article/1104-mdb/news/20386.