(127f) Portable Smartphone-Enabled DNA Analysis

Authors: 
Priye, A., Sandia National Laboratory
Ugaz, V. M., Texas A&M University

The lack of affordable, rapid, and easy to use diagnostic technologies is one of the most critical issues confronting global public health. Expanded availability of such technologies will not only impact health care, but will be a key to enabling rapid identification of infectious agents in environments with little or no laboratory infrastructure. Here we describe our recent efforts to address these needs by developing an innovative smartphone-enabled DNA analysis system based on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Our approach offers an inherently simple design (similar in principle to a lava lamp) that enables PCR to be completed in 10-20 minutes, as compared to 1-2 hours using conventional instruments. Electrical power requirements are dramatically reduced by harnessing natural convection to actuate the reaction, allowing the entire system to be operated from a standard USB connection via solar battery packs. Instantaneous detection and analysis are enabled using an ordinary smartphone camera and dedicated app interface. This simple to operate format makes it possible to perform PCR-based assays in scenarios where a “yes-no” result is desired and an extensive laboratory infrastructure is lacking.  The simple and inexpensive design make it possible to construct a complete DNA analysis system for approximately $20. The ability to deliver performance comparable to or surpassing that of current-generation systems while simultaneously providing an orders of magnitude reduction in cost has potential to greatly expand the use of PCR-based detection assays by moving them out of the laboratory and into settings where they are needed most.