Every person has been confronted at least once in their lifetime with the pleasures of having to undergo a full set of laboratory tests in order to assess their general health or a particular problem. The more cautious go through this process periodically, to be assured that they are fit as a fiddle, while most of us build up the courage for it only after sensing that something may be wrong with our body. When our well-oiled machine begins to show signs of weakness, the first phase of solving the problem implies one valuable aspect: proper detection of the issue at hand.

“They have developed an at-home urine test that can indicate whether the person in question may be suffering from kidney disease, urinary infections, diabetes and even bladder cancer. The device is cost-efficient, portable and according to its results up until this point, very accurate.”

 

While it might seem relatively simple, the whole process starting from experiencing symptoms and ending with getting your test results back in order to commence actual treatment may sometimes be a tad complicated. Some paper work is involved (usually a considerable amount), some needles, some specimen cups, another appointment… if it were only possible to do such investigations at home, at least for some diseases.

Well, a Stanford research team has been hard at work to solve this problem and give people the possibility to do certain testing in the comfort of their own homes. To be more precise, they have developed an at-home urine test that can indicate whether the person in question may be suffering from kidney disease, urinary infections, diabetes and even bladder cancer. The device is cost-efficient, portable and according to its results up until this point, very accurate. Based on the traditional medical dipstick that is already used for such investigations, the invention also includes an engineered black box which offers a suitable environment for analysis and a smartphone that is placed on top of the box.

“You are probably wondering where exactly does the smartphone fit in this whole equation? Its role is to record color changes in the various squares that are on the dipstick, and since time is of the essence in the case of some chemical reactions, the video (that may range from 30 seconds to 2 minutes) can be played back in order to see the exact color of a square, according to the expected time at which the result should be read.”

 

These features are important because the test is color-based and light-sensitive, meaning, once a urine sample is placed on the strip, the latter modifies its colour according to the chemical elements specific to certain diseases. The issue of light-sensitivity has been brought up and incorporated in the design due to the fact that inconsistent lighting can induce errors when reading the results. You are probably wondering where exactly does the smartphone fit in this whole equation? Its role is to record color changes in the various squares that are on the dipstick, and since time is of the essence in the case of some chemical reactions, the video (that may range from 30 seconds to 2 minutes) can be played back in order to see the exact color of a square, according to the expected time at which the result should be read. The box communicates with the smartphone through specially designed software that signals the phone’s camera when to start and stop recording.

With the lighting and timing issues covered, the solution for being sure that the necessary volume of urine is being used comes in the form of a dispenser and a multi-layer system that applies an exact amount of urine onto the dipstick. With all these innovations combined, the at-home urine test is capable of accurately detecting inadequate levels of chemical elements such as glucose or proteins that often indicate kidney disease, urinary infections or diabetes.

“It’s such a hassle to go into the doctor’s office for such a simple test. This device can remove the burden in developed countries and in facilities where they don’t have the resources to do these tests.” (Gennifer Smith, Electrical Engineering PhD student, Stanford University for Stanford News, May 2016).

 

Written by R.F.I

 

Gennifer T. Smith et al, Robust dipstick urinalysis using a low-cost, micro-volume slipping manifold and mobile phone platform, Lab On A Chip, April 2016

https://web.stanford.edu/~ndwork/papers/smithDworkUrinalysis.pdf

http://news.stanford.edu/2016/05/16/stanford-engineers-design-home-urine-test-scan-diseases/

http://www.fiercemedicaldevices.com/story/stanford-engineers-design-portable-diy-urine-test/2016-05-20

http://www.gizmag.com/stanford-urine-test-home/43357/

http://sciencenewsjournal.com/stanford-engineers-create-new-home-urine-test-shocking-accuracy/

https://futuristech.info/posts/video-home-urine-test-could-help-detect-disease-and-make-medical-processes-more-efficient