A team of biomedical engineers at Columbia University has developed a smartphone dongle costing just $34 that can conduct HIV tests with similar accuracy to ‘gold standard’ laboratory equipment costing over $18,000. The test, which also detects syphilis, takes just 15 minutes to run … 

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The work was reported in the Science Translational Medicine journal (via GigaOM).

This low-cost dongle replicates all mechanical, optical, and electronic functions of a laboratory-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) without requiring any stored energy; all necessary power is drawn from a smartphone. [Results] rivaled the gold standard of laboratory-based HIV ELISA.

The dongle plugs into the audio jack, and is compatible with both Android smartphones and iPhones. The test requires just a single pin-prick of blood.

Training health workers to administer the test takes just half an hour. By making the test cheap and quick to run using only minimal equipment, it’s hoped to dramatically increase testing in developing countries.

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