DNA strands can now be seen through a smartphone

photo credit: islandlawyers.com


A group of researchers from the University of California in Los Angeles have come up with a smartphone that can ultra-zoom, allows DNA strands be seen and sized. Its zoom features a high-resolution microscope that can measure two nanometers in width.

The device is intended for use in remote laboratory settings to diagnose various types of cancers and nervous system disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, as well as detect drug resistance in infectious diseases. To use the camera it is necessary to first isolate and label the desired DNA with fluorescent tags.Ozcan says such laboratory procedures are possible even in remote locations and resource-limited settings.To scan the DNA, the group developed a computational interface and Windows smart application running on the same smart phone. The scanned information is then sent to a remote server in Ozcan’s laboratory, which measures the length of the DNA molecules. Assuming you have a reliable data connection, the entire data processing takes less than 10 seconds.

This idea was created for the benefit of those on-the-field researchers. With this kind of a portable DNA measurement gadget, researchers no need to bring along heavy equipment on the field.