TestCard is developing self-diagnostic technology with the help of smartphones

TestCard, a med tech start-up developed and funded mostly in Sofia, Bulgaria, but based in North Yorkshire and London, just won the top emerging technology award at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, ahead of 4,500 other start-ups.

The product, a set of urine analysis dipsticks in a flat-pack mailer, turns your smartphone into a clinical-grade urinalysis kit. The first versions, launched this year, will provide DIY testing for pregnancy, urinary tract infections, blood glucose and illegal drugs, with claims to be cheaper to the consumer and giving richer information than rivals.

Later releases of TestCard will detect from urine gonorrhoea, chlamydia, malaria and, possibly, prostate conditions, including cancer; such prostate-specific antigen tests are normally done from blood.

The chemistry of TestCard’s urine dipsticks is not new, but interpreting the colours on the sticks correctly without sophisticated equipment is what the company claims to have cracked using phone cameras.

I“We’re leveraging the technology all of us carry in our pocket,” explains co-founder Luke Heron in an interview for Financial Times. “Cameras in iPhones in particular are now so good they’re better often than the eye in scanners in hospital diagnostic machines. But we can also offer more information than existing dipstick tests, as we have all the computing power of the phone to play with.”

The UK’s National Health Service is trialling the system, while Médecins Sans Frontières has expressed interest in the malaria-testing potential for Africa.

Businesses, too, are interested. Companies employing drivers are inquiring about TestCard’s drug test, while the medical insurer Aetna is using TestCard for diabetes risk testing in India.

Original source: Financial Times

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