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A smartphone-powered device can identify DNA in a range of sample types, New Scientist reports.

Researchers from the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China, developed a point-of-care testing device they've dubbed POCKET for point-of-care kit for the entire test. According to their paper appearing in Science Advances, POCKET weighs about 100 grams and is less than 25 centimeters in length. The device includes an integrated chip and a foldable detection box that uses a smartphone as a heater, incubator, detector, and result reader. The researchers report they could use their device to detect DNA from clinical and environmental samples, and could even detect SNPs within some of those samples. For instance, it could detect E. coli from within milk and river water samples, and gene alterations associated with β-thalassemia from blood samples.

The device, they add, "is sensitive, specific, speedy, and stable."

360Dx notes that the device is prototype in the early stages of development, but that the researchers think it could eventually be a commercial diagnostic test.

Deakin University's Jacqueline Savard cautions at New Scientist that use of a device like this outside of a clinical context could have unintended consequences if people don't have the needed support following a positive test result.