Examine DNA Using a Phone

Examine DNA Using a Phone

Author: Xin Su

The imaging and sizing of single DNA molecules is an important characterization of biomolecules, and can be used for a variety of biomedical diagnoses. However, this type of analysis is usually carried out with advanced experimental set-ups, limiting the scope of its applications.

A multi-departmental team led by Aydogan Ozcan, University of California, Los Angeles, USA, has developed a miniaturized and low-cost fluorescence microscope that enables the imaging and sizing of single DNA samples when integrated into a smartphone platform. The microscope is 3D printed as an external phone attachment, consisting of a 450 nm laser diode as the light source and a lens system that can transmit fluorescence signals to the cellphone lens.

Through a back-end cloud computing server, this compact set-up is able to measure the lengths of 10 kilobase-pairs and longer DNA samples over a field-of-view of 2 mm2, with a sizing accuracy of less than 1 kilobase-pairs. Such sizing capacity renders this device a prototype for portable and convenient detection of diseases such as cancers and nervous system disorders.


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