Stanford University's engineers are back in the news again for biomedical engineering that would involve using a urine test to determine whether or not a person has a disease or not. Yes, that does sound like the way it has been done for quite some time, however, engineers are trying to revolutionise the testing process and make it as simple as home testing. In the past, almost like the litmus paper test, a paper is dipped into the collected urine sample and the paper changes colour. However, the results of these sorts of tests have been inconclusive, and so the engineers went to work to perfect this problematic way of testing for diseases. 

"You think it's easy -- you just dip the stick in urine and look for the color change, but there are things that can go wrong. Doctors don't end up trusting those results as accurate," said Audrey Bowden, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford. 


The engineers have designed a small box that will still utilize a paper with samples on a dipstick but will make use of a smartphone app. The camera notices changes in color and can accurately measure which disease is prevalent on the dipstick.

Is it completely full proof? Is it the legitimate answer to home testing for diseases? 

"If you have too little or too much urine on the dipstick, you'll get erroneous results,"  said Gennifer Smith, a P.h.D student in electrical engineering. This used to be another problem with the dipstick test in the past, however, to circumnavigate the problem, the engineers designed a "multi-layered system to load urine onto the dipstick." Therefore, the dipstick gets the right amount of urine and does not overdose the dipstick.  

The engineers hope to release an official app for phones with the box in the future so that people could test themselves at home instead of having to pay costly doctor's fees to go in just for a solitary test. Smith said: "This device can remove the burden in developed countries and in facilities where they don't have the resources to do these tests." 

They have published their findings in the journal Lab on a Chip. The report is titled: Robust dipstick urinalysis using a low-cost, micro-volume slipping manifold and mobile phone platform


Source: Stanford News

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