Researchers from the Washington State University (WSU) in the US have developed a portable laboratory on a smartphone, that can analyze various samples at a time to detect cancer biomarker.

The School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering assistant professor Lei Li and his research team developed the new low-cost smartphone lab.

WSU research team has designed an eight channel smartphone spectrometer, which can detect human interleukin-6 (IL-6) biomarker for lung, prostate, liver, breast and epithelial cancers.

A spectrometer can analyze the amount and type of chemicals in a sample by measuring the light spectrum.

Li’s multichannel spectrometer holds capacity to measure up to eight different samples at once through using ELISA or colorimetric test enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay that identifies antibodies and color change as disease markers.

The researchers are currently applying their portable spectrometer in real world situations.

Li said: “With our eight channel spectrometer, we can put eight different samples to do the same test, or one sample in eight different wells to do eight different tests. . This increases our device’s efficiency.

“The spectrometer would be especially useful in clinics and hospitals that have a large number of samples without on-site labs, or for doctors who practice abroad or in remote areas.”

Li’s new smartphone lab works with an iPhone 5. He is also creating an adjustable design that can work with any smartphone.

National Science Foundation and WSU startup fund provides the financial assistance for the project.

Image: The new smartphone lab can analyze several samples at once to detect a cancer biomarker. Photo: courtesy of Washington State University.