Researchers have created a smartphone device that can perform blood tests - a creation they say could "improve the quality of life" for people undergoing treatment for the prevention of blood clots.
The formation of blood clots in the arteries and veins can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Individuals at high risk of blood clots are often treated with anticoagulants - drugs that thin the blood and prevent the clotting process.
However, anticoagulant therapy requires patients to undergo frequent monitoring of blood flow in the hospital. Furthermore, if a person takes the wrong dosage of anticoagulants, this can cause cardiovascular problems rather than help reduce them.
With this in mind, researchers from Qloudlab - a start-up company based in the microengineering laboratory of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland - have created a device that could allow patients undergoing anticoagulant therapy to self-monitor.
How does the device work?
The gadget consists of a small single-use film that is attached to the screen of a smartphone. The film is made of a microstructured plastic layer that is a few micrometers thick.
The creators say the smartphone device (pictured) could improve quality of life for patients undergoing anticoagulant therapy.
Image credit: Alain Herzog
When blood enters the film through capillary action, it can detect a molecule present in blood that initiates coagulation - the process by which blood forms clots.
The phone is then able to interpret the results by analyzing interferences in the electric field on the surface of the smartphone's screen.
This is a process similar to what happens when your finger comes into contact with the screen of a smartphone.
The results are then sent to a specific smartphone app, also created by Qloudlab.
This data can then be sent directly to a doctor, who can assess whether a patients' treatment needs to be modified.
Arther Queval, the founder of Qloudlab, says:
"Such a test will significantly improve the quality of life for people undergoing this kind of treatment."
Qloudlab has recently applied for a patent for the device, and the creators have recently received funding from Venture Kick that has allowed them to recruit a biochemist.
The team hopes that by the end of next year, they will have shown that the device is as reliable as a laboratory test and can progress toward commercialization.
It seems that combining smartphones with self-monitoring is becoming increasingly popular. Medical News Today recently reported on the creation of a smartphone case that can measure key vital signs, including blood pressure, temperature and blood oxygen.
Last year, a study from the University of California, Los Angeles, detailed the creation of a portable device that can conduct kidney tests and transmit the data through a smartphone attachment.