Inexpensive blood glucose monitors, used by millions of diabetics, could be easily adapted to a range of other home DNA-testing applications – to check for viruses and bacteria in human body fluids, in food and in other substances, scientists say in a new study.
The report, published in the American Chemical Society journal Analytical Chemistry, suggested chemists could develop such low-cost tests for consumers to use for early diagnosis of diseases and checking the safety of food. Such tests could improve health and reduce costs, especially for people in rural areas, developing countries or places with scant medical resources.
The study’s authors, scientists Yi Lu and Yu Xiang, have been working on adaptations to home blood-sugar monitors. In the new report, they said they adapted a glucose meter to monitor for bacterial or viral DNA fragments.
As a result of the changes made to the monitor, the scientists said they were able to detect a hepatitis B virus DNA fragment at concentrations comparable to or in some cases even better than many current laboratory-based DNA measurement systems, which are much more expensive and time-consuming.
The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.