A smartphone-based automated albumin-testing tool that weighs approximately one-third of a pound can determine urinary albumin levels and transmit results all within about five minutes.

A digital sensing platform installed on the camera unit of a smartphone captures images of fluorescent assays confined within disposable test tubes, Aydogan Ozcan, PhD, and colleagues at the University of California Los Angeles explained in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Lab on a Chip

It automatically analyzes them for sensitive and specific detection of urinary albumin using a battery-powered laser diode that probes the test-tube sample, interacts with the control tube, and collects the fluorescent emission. The phone camera captures the images of the fluorescent tubes and processes them within one second through an application running on the phone.

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The technology could be useful for early diagnosis of kidney disease or for monitoring chronic patients, particularly those with diabetes, hypertension, and/or cardiovascular diseases.