Future space missions will require prolonged stays of crew members onboard space stations, and on other spacecraft during journeys to other planets. Increasingly complex space missions will also require the health status of astronauts to be monitored, preferably in a simple point-of-care apparatus that is compact and simple. The IOS system will enable NASA to monitor the health status of crew members by means of simple blood-based biomarker detection. A lateral flow test strip will be integrated with a cell phone into a simple and compact blood biomarker detection platform. This platform will gather diagnostic information in the absence of medically trained personnel, and can also monitor the health of aircraft pilots, cabin crews, passengers, and others in aeronautics-related occupations.
A cell phone-based serum biomarker detection platform will be cost-effective and compact not only for space exploration; it will also benefit the overall healthcare industry. Cell phones are becoming increasingly prevalent all over the world, with approximately 5 billion subscribers worldwide, and in the U.S. approximately one in three adults owns a smart phone. The ability to integrate a simple LFTS assay with a cell phone will enable healthcare providers to perform blood tests for many diseases on a wide population, including populations in remote areas where healthcare facilities are sparse. Such a platform can have a major impact in developing countries where a simple cell phone can be converted into a blood marker detection platform, avoiding the cost of acquiring dedicated medical equipment; furthermore, this point-of-care device improves the probability of early detection, yielding additional savings in overall cost of healthcare. Military field medicine will also benefit from the availability of a versatile handheld medical blood testing device that takes advantage of the ubiquitous mobile phone to minimize weight and power requirements.