University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers have developed iTube, a lightweight device that attaches to a cell phone to detect allergens in food samples. iTube uses the cell phone's built-in camera and a smartphone application to run a laboratory-level test on the sample. The attachment analyzes a test tube-based allergen-concentration test known as a colorimetric assay.
To develop the app, food samples are first ground up and mixed in a test tube with hot water and an extraction solvent. Then, following a step-by-step procedure, the sample is mixed with several other reactive testing liquids. When the sample is ready, it is measured optically for allergen concentration through the iTube platform, which can test for a variety of allergens, including peanuts, almonds, eggs, gluten, and hazelnuts, says UCLA professor Aydogan Ozcan.
"We envision that this cell phone-based allergen testing platform could be very valuable, especially for parents, as well as for schools, restaurants, and other public settings," Ozcan says.
From UCLA Newsroom
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