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Smartphone Microscope Detects Next-Generation DNA Sequencing Reactions

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AUTUM C. PYLANT, NEWS EDITOR, [email protected]

A novel smartphone-based microscope could make DNA sequence analysis much easier, faster and more readily accessible in remote locations.

The device, developed by researchers at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA and at Sweden’s Stockholm University and Uppsala University, can image and analyze specific DNA sequences and genetic mutations in tumor cells without having to first extract DNA from them.

Views of the smartphone-based device developed by scientists at UCLA, Stockholm University and Uppsala University, showing images of lung epithelial cells with genetic mutations. Courtesy of Aydogan Ozcan.

Generally, DNA analysis requires sending patients’ cell and tissue samples to well-equipped labs, which in many cases are located far away. Researcher Aydogan Ozcan, UCLA’s Chancellor’s Professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering, and associate director of CNSI said this device will ease that burden and decrease costs.

“Our device could make the mutation testing accessible to health care workers even in remote locations, without the need for large, expensive lab equipment,” said Ozcan. “Ultralow-cost DNA sequencing and tumor biopsy analysis can substantially decrease diagnostic costs and make it more widely accessible.”

To use the device, first a technician places a tissue sample in a small container. The mobile phone microscope then records multimode images of the processed sample and subsequently feeds data to an algorithm. This algorithm automatically analyzes the images to read the sequenced DNA bases of the extracted tumor DNA, or to find genetic mutations directly inside the tumor tissue. The device can detect even small amounts of cancer cells among a large group of normal cells.

Ozcan told Photonics Media he and his fellow researchers achieved a new milestone for telemedicine technologies in creating a device that can in fact, image and detect next-generation DNA sequencing reactions.

“More specifically, we showed that a cost-effective and compact multimodal microscope integrated on a mobile phone can be used for targeted DNA sequencing and in situ point mutation analysis that allow integrating molecular analysis with tumor tissue morphology.”

The lightweight optical attachment used with a standard smartphone camera was created using a 3D printer. It is capable of capturing multicolor fluorescence, bright-field and dark-field images of cells, and tissue samples at the same quality of those created by a traditional light microscope.

The research findings on the new device are described in the journal Nature Communications (doi:10.1038/ncomms13913).

Apr 2017
California NanoSystems InstitutecamerasCNSIUCLASweden’s Stockholm UniversityUppsala UniversityAydogan OzcanResearch & TechnologyeducationBiophotonicsMicroscopyDNAimagingDNA analysissmartphoneAutum PylantBioScan

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