Biomeme has developed a device that turns any iPhone into a mobile DNA lab to accurately perform tests to identify things like microbes, infectious contaminants, foodborne pathogens and genetic mutations. This innovation looks to change the way DNA analysis is conducted.
"Everything got [sic] DNA that's living, so the number of applications are endless," Jesse van Westrienen, co-founder of Biomeme, told Tech Times.
The Biomeme system consists of the hardware, software, chemistry aspect and device that attaches to the iPhone. The Biomeme device is the heart of the system, and is a fully functional PCR thermocycler, the lab instrument that is used to employ a chain reaction to amplify segments of DNA, and is all shrunken down into a handheld unit.
Because it is mobile, users can now accurately conduct lab-grade tests when out in the field. This can be used to detect if a water supply is contaminated or what species of fish was found in the body of water.
This is where the chemistry part of the system comes in. Biomeme makes tests that include the sample prep, which allows the user to easily isolate the DNA without extensive lab equipment, and the actual test.
The test kit is designed to detect whatever you are testing, such as a disease or gene mutation. The user must swab the specimen, say, the inside of a person's cheek, for example, and then, swirl the swab into the sample kit, which then isolates the contents so that only the DNA remains.
The isolated DNA is then added to the test, and this kit is then inserted into the top of the device.
With the iPhone already attached to the hardware, the software combined with the iPhone's camera sensor will start running the tests. Then, the accompanying app takes over and will display the results in only about 45 minutes to an hour.
This mobile genetic diagnostic platform is taking expensive lab experiments and bringing them right into the field for a more reasonable price to be used to test livestock, water supplies and even people. This can be extremely beneficial for testing STDs in developing countries, for example, or for when an infectious disease or virus breaks out in a particular location.
Biomeme even sells a "fishy fish" test that can be used when purchasing seafood. You might think you are about to eat a specific type of fish — and paid the premium when buying it — only to find it that is not the case.
"Anybody can do it, the complexity is very low so that you don't need a lot of expertise, [and] you don't have to be a molecular biologist to do it," van Westrienen said.
While traditional DNA analysis equipment costs tens of thousands of dollars, Biomeme offers this same technology for just a fraction of the price.
The company also has plans to release an updated model in 2017 that would eliminate the need to work with an iPhone.