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Biomeme Wants To Turn Your iOS Device Into A Disease-Detecting Mobile DNA Lab

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Waverunner, Aug 9, 2013.

  1. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

    These inventions will help to diagnose and cure CFS. They will enable PWCs and CFS doctors to conduct the diagnostic research, that is needed. Government and pharma companies don't care about CFS. Therefore the patient needs to be enabled to take care of an illness himself.


    There’s a vast, vast sea of the smartphone accessories out there that are designed to solve first-world problems (do we honestly need another bottle opening case?), but here’s one that aspires to change the rest of the world. The folks at Dreamit Ventures-backed Biomeme have developed a device that will turn your humble iPhone or iPod touch into a lean, mean, mobile DNA replicating machine that they hope will ultimately change how diseases are tracked and treated.
    (And before you ask, yes, Android support is in the works too.)
    Sounds bold, no? Those lofty ambitions all currently hinge on what’s called a real-time qPCR thermocycler, a generally pricey bit of lab equipment that amplifies traces amounts of DNA into more easily detectable quantities. They’re ideal for detecting diseases, but their heft (and hefty price tags) means that the thousands of small clinics around the world can’t afford to use them with any sort of regularity. That’s where Biomeme comes in.
    In less than a year, the five person team has created a version they claim is just as accurate as those expensive models but only costs a fraction of the price. That’s because the brain of the system is a humble smartphone connected via Bluetooth — here’s how the whole shebang works.
    Once you’ve connected your smartphone over Bluetooth, you slot it into the mobile PCR machine. Then you crack open a test kit that’s designed to detect different diseases (sold separately, think of it as health-conscious twist on the old razor-and-blade model) and do a bit of pipetting. After a bit of sample test prep — co-founder and bizdev lead Max Perelman says “even VCs” have been unable to screw up the process), you load the sample into the top of the machine and wait for your results.
    Inside the prototype’s 3D-printed chassis is an Arduino that runs the show — it adjusts the machine’s temperature with heaters and fans, controls the excitation light, and handles the wireless connection with the iOS device. Meanwhile the iDevice’s camera is used to detect how luminescent those target DNA sequences are, and the corresponding app checks to see how closely they match the signature of whatever disease you’re looking for. The current version of the hardware isn’t quite as polished as the team would hope and it’s chock-full of open-source, hack-friendly components, but co-founder Marc DeJohn says they’d like to keep it that way if at all possible.
    The team is aiming to sell its initial run of smartphone-centric PCR machines for about $1,000, but that’s just the start — should they get significant traction from the medical community at that price point, Biomeme wants to try and bring down the price to the level where you average curious consumers could pick one up without breaking the bank. That’s the overarching goal here: to democratize DNA testing.
    Sadly, Perelman says the United States isn’t as bullish on smartphone-centric human health initiatives as it could be, so Biomeme is tackling a less complex domestic conundrum for now: the safety of your leafy greens. The startup is pushing to make its mark in South America and Africa by creating a sort of decentralized lab system though — ideally, these clinics and mobile labs will be performing their own disease testing in the field in real-time, and uploading their results so other doctors can get a bird’s-eye view of what’s happening where.
    Nielk likes this.
  2. Nielk


    Thank you, Dr. Spock. Will there still be a need for doctors? It will be able to detect disease, but what about cures?
    Seriously though, the future possibilities of using DNA data combined with computer systems is very promising.
  3. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member


    One important step to find a cure is to find the cause. But you are right of course, diagnostics alone don't lead to treatment but in my eyes they are the first step to move CFS and the underlying cause out of the shadow, into the light of media and scientific attention. Moreover they make it a lot easier, to control treatment success. You could track what influence your diet, environment and medications have on your diagnostic markers.

    Do we need doctors? In my eyes, the job of a doctor is highly overrated. Their studies are actually pretty hard and complex. The outcome however is miserable. Why? Because doctors don't treat patients, they manage patients. A doctor listens to your symptoms, he runs standard tests and prescribes standard treatment. These treatments aren't individualized. If standard treatment doesn't help, you are alone. Doctors don't take risks, they don't come up with new treatments, they don#t conduct research, they don't go into the lab and try to help patients by for example isolating a bacterial strain (like it was in 1917, when e. coli Nissle was invented). All most of them do is try to hold up the pseudo-greatness of their profession. As soon as you look behind this facade you realize, that's it's the research scientists who do the great work, who lay the basis for new diagnostics and new treatments. The job of most doctors can be done by everyone else, as long as you receive a few months or 1 to 2 years of training. It's nothing special. Doctors don't need 99% of what they learned in medical school in practice. All they do is stick to a check-list. In future most doctors will be replaced by computers. This will make medicine affordable and much more reliable. However, it's still a long way till this will become reality.

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