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Lab Chip. 2011 Oct 21;11(20):3411-8. doi: 10.1039/c1lc20479c. Epub 2011 Sep 1.

Integration of cell phone imaging with microchip ELISA to detect ovarian cancer HE4 biomarker in urine at the point-of-care.

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  • 1Demirci Bio-Acoustic-MEMS in Medicine (BAMM) Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Ovarian cancer is asymptomatic in the early stages and most patients present with advanced levels of disease. The lack of cost-effective methods that can achieve frequent, simple and non-invasive testing hinders early detection and causes high mortality in ovarian cancer patients. Here, we report a simple and inexpensive microchip ELISA-based detection module that employs a portable detection system, i.e., a cell phone/charge-coupled device (CCD) to quantify an ovarian cancer biomarker, HE4, in urine. Integration of a mobile application with a cell phone enabled immediate processing of microchip ELISA results, which eliminated the need for a bulky, expensive spectrophotometer. The HE4 level detected by a cell phone or a lensless CCD system was significantly elevated in urine samples from cancer patients (n = 19) than healthy controls (n = 20) (p < 0.001). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses showed that the microchip ELISA coupled with a cell phone running an automated analysis mobile application had a sensitivity of 89.5% at a specificity of 90%. Under the same specificity, the microchip ELISA coupled with a CCD had a sensitivity of 84.2%. In conclusion, integration of microchip ELISA with cell phone/CCD-based colorimetric measurement technology can be used to detect HE4 biomarker at the point-of-care (POC), paving the way to create bedside technologies for diagnostics and treatment monitoring.

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