Foodborne illness represents a significant health burden worldwide. While monitoring the freshness of food before consumption could significantly improve the current predicament, there is a lack of a simple system that one can use to accurately assess the freshness of their food. Currently, the most common practice for food quality determination is by visual or odor inspection which lacks objectivity, accuracy and precision. Near infrared (NIR) spectroscopic techniques can help address this problem by providing rapid and non-destructive means to estimate the freshness state of various foods based on the changes to their characteristic spectra in the NIR region. Recent advancements in the development of portable NIR spectrometers are also enabling the realization of this technique at the point-of-need. In this study, we have evaluated the feasibility of using NIR spectroscopy at the point-of-need to estimate the freshness of various foods including: beef sirloin, beef eyeround, pork sirloin, bass, salmon, corvina, tomato and watermelon. Using a commercial portable NIR spectrometer, we periodically scanned and collected NIR spectra from the food items that were stored at 4°C inside a refrigerator for up to 30 days. For these food items, we show that the NIR spectra can be classified by the foods’ aging day as well as by the levels of chemical/microbial indicators (i.e., thiobarbituric acid, volatile basic nitrogen and bacteria levels) with high accuracy, which represents high prospects of NIR spectroscopy for point-of-need freshness assessment of meat, fish, vegetables and fruits.
Anxiety disorders are estimated to be the most common mental illness in US affecting around 40 million people and related job stress is estimated to cost US industry up to $300 billion due to lower productivity and absenteeism. A personal diagnostic device which could help identify stressed individuals would therefore be a huge boost for workforce productivity. We are therefore developing a point of care diagnostic device that can be integrated with smartphones or tablets for the measurement of cortisol - a stress related salivary biomarker, which is known to be strongly involved in body's fight-or-flight response to a stressor (physical or mental). The device is based around a competitive lateral flow assay whose results can then be read and quantified through an accessory compatible with the smartphone. In this presentation, we report the development and results of such an assay and the integrated device. We then present the results of a study relating the diurnal patterns of cortisol levels and the alertness of an individual based on the circadian rhythm and sleep patterns of the individual. We hope to use the insight provided by combining the information provided by levels of stress related to chemical biomarkers of the individual with the physical biomarkers to lead to a better informed and optimized activity schedule for maximized work output.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is the leading cause of cognitive decline in the elderly and is associated with increased risks of several acute and chronic conditions including anemia. The deficiency is prevalent among the world population, most of whom are unaware of their condition due to the lack of a simple diagnostics system. Recent advancements in the smartphone-enabled mobile health can help address this problem by making the deficiency tests more accessible. Previously, our group has demonstrated the NutriPhone, a smartphone platform for the accurate quantification of vitamin D levels. The NutriPhone technology comprises of a disposable test strip that performs a colorimetric reaction upon collecting a sample, a reusable accessory that interfaces with the smartphone camera, and a smartphone app that stores the algorithm for analyzing the test-strip reaction. In this work, we show that the NutriPhone can be expanded to measure vitamin B12 concentrations by developing a lateral flow assay for B12 that is compatible with our NutriPhone system. Our novel vitamin B12 assay incorporates blood sample processing and key reagent storage on-chip, which advances it into a sample-in-answer-out format that is suitable for point-of-care diagnostic applications. In order to enable the detection of pM levels of vitamin B12 levels, silver amplification of the initial signal is used within the total assay time of less than 15 minutes. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our NutriPhone system by deploying it in a resource-limited clinical setting in India where it is used to test tens of participants for vitamin B12 deficiency.