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Cellphone App Detects Allergy Triggers

Monday, 17 December 2012 12:17 PM

People with food allergies can now quickly and easily identify products that might trigger dangerous reactions — using their cellphones.
A team of researchers from the University of California-Los Angeles has developed a lightweight device called the iTube that attaches to a cellphone to detect allergens in foods. The iTube uses the phone's built-in camera, along with a smart-phone application, to run a test with the same high level of sensitivity as a laboratory.
The technology could come in handy when individuals with allergies aren’t sure whether the foods on their plate — at a dinner party or restaurant, for instance — might contain peanuts or other common causes of sometimes life-threatening allergic reactions.
Food allergies affect as many as 8 percent of young children and 2 percent of adults. While laws regulate the labeling of ingredients in pre-packaged foods, cross-contaminations can still occur during processing, manufacturing, and transportation.
"We envision that this cellphone-based allergen testing platform could be very valuable, especially for parents, as well as for schools, restaurants, and other public settings," said Aydogan Ozcan, leader of the research team and a UCLA associate professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering. "Once successfully deployed in these settings, the big amount of data … that this platform will continuously generate would indeed be priceless for consumers, food manufacturers, policymakers and researchers, among others."
The iTube weighs less than two ounces and the system digitally converts raw images from a cellphone camera into concentration measurements detected in food. Tests of the iTube on cookies showed it can detect variety of allergens, including peanuts, almonds, eggs, gluten, and hazelnuts, Ozcan said.
Ozcan’s research was published online in the peer-reviewed journal Lab on a Chip.

© HealthDay

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People with food allergies can now identify products that might trigger reactions — using their cellphones.
Monday, 17 December 2012 12:17 PM
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