Dial a diagnosis: cell phones may determine health problems

Almost 7 billion of us use one, and now researchers say that phone you talk, text, and tweet with could one day do much more for your health.

Hannah Gooch is allergic to eggs.

Necia Joy Gooch, Hannah’s mom, says, "We did a strict avoidance."

Spike Loy has diabetes.

"Since age seven and a half, you know, between two and 10 blood tests a day,” Loy says.

One day, both could benefit from a medical breakthrough that you carry around every day.

Aydogan Ozcan, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bio-engineering at UCLA, says, "You can imagine your cell phone working like a very advanced microscope for looking at various different specimen."

Researchers at UCLA created various attachments that fit on smart phones. This one can perform an HIV screening.

Another detects allergens in food. A special tube measures allergens optically with the phone's camera.

Ozcan says, “You can do this for peanuts or you can do this for other kinds of allergens."

Other attachments measure the presence of e-coli in food, blood cell counts, and blood sugar levels. Cell phones are less expensive than a large lab and can be used in the field with immediate results.

"This platform is a very reliable means for looking at micro and nano scale things,” Ozcan adds.

It is not on the market yet, but once it is, researchers believe it will be particularly beneficial to doctors and patients in developing countries who do not have access to advanced laboratories.


REPORT: MB # 3736

BACKGROUND: It's estimated over 90 percent of American adults use a cell phone. And cell phones today are growing in complexity and sophistication by the month; one study found 56 percent of Americans have a smart phone. As the cell phones become more complex and farther reaching, as the estimated number of cell phone users worldwide hits 6 billion, the promise of using them for healthcare is growing. There are a variety of health apps for your phone that can help you with everything from managing diabetes to getting motivated to go to the gym. (Source: www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/06/06/cell-phone-ownership-hits-91-of-adults/)
IPHONE HOME EAR EXAMINATION: A home ear examination can help parents detect many ear problems; such as ear infections, excessive earwax, or an object in the ear canal. Wilbur Lam, MD, PhD, from Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology created a smartphone-enabled otoscope for remote diagnosis of pediatric ear infections. The Remotoscope is a clip-on attachment and software app that turns an iPhone into a digital otoscope. (SOURCE: www.actsi.org/news/2012/Documents/Lam%20Interview_ccm_final.pdf)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Dr. Aydogan Ozcan, at UCLA has developed a way for your phone to act like a very inexpensive microscope. He developed a device which uses your cell phone's camera to test a variety of different things; including allergens, your urine, and even if you have diabetes. He hopes his device will be able to change healthcare in the United States by making it more efficient, but also worldwide by providing developing countries with an economical way of testing patients. (Source: Dr. Aydogan Ozcan)

Mark Wheeler
Senior Media Relations Rep
UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations
(310) 794-2265

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