A Simple Smartphone DNA Test for Chlamydia
Abstract： The low-cost NAAT platform which is a battery-powered device can diagnose chlamydia.
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. It is estimated that about 2.86 million people can be infected with chlamydia each year, but the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just received only 1.4 million cases in 2013. Many cases go unreported because the disease is easily spread and does not develop symptoms in 75% of women and 50% of men, meaning such individuals don’t do the testing.
People who were infected with chlamydia but do not get treated, would have higher risk of many health problems. This sexually transmitted disease can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or even develop to irreversibly damage reproductive system of women. On the base of CDC, PID is calculated affect up to 1/3 women with chlamydia, and can lead to infertility, debilitating and increase the risk of life-threatening ectopic pregnancies. For men it can also lead to nonspecific urethritis (NGU), epididymitis and proctitis.
In recent years, healthcare providers have been able to do the most accurate screening programs for chlamydia through nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT). Jeff Tza-Huei Wang, PhD who is work at Johns Hopkins University and colleagues point out the NAATs test are too complex and expensive to perform in physicians' offices, sexual health clinics or other point-of-care settings. Therefore, they have developed the low-cost NAAT platform which is a battery-powered device and can diagnose chlamydia at any point-of-care. It works by analyzing samples, detecting chlamydia bacteria’s DNA using a microfluidics cartridge. It is completed from DNA amplification to data processing in one coffee mug-sized device. The smartphone connects with a coffee mug and the user can download and process test data via an app of the smartphone. The researchers certified the result’s accuracy by comparing with the gold standard test for chlamydia. The developers found both tests showed the same results through analyzing 20 patient samples by using both tests. Furthermore, each microfluidics cartridge it uses would cost $2, much cheaper than similar commercial cartridges that cost around $10 per test.
Altogether, it is suggest that new instrument may be a simpler, more convenience, cheaper and equally effective alternative to the traditional one. It is possible for non-traditional healthcare settings to afford and offer effective chlamydia testing and then to screen a wider population of at-risk women and men.