Smartphone technology facilitates point-of-care nucleic acid diagnosis: a beginner’s guide

Vinoth Kumar Rajendran, Padmavathy Bakthavathsalam, Peter L. Bergquist, Anwar Sunna*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


The reliable detection of nucleic acids at low concentrations in clinical samples like blood, urine and saliva, and in food can be achieved by nucleic acid amplification methods. Several portable and hand-held devices have been developed to translate these laboratory-based methods to point-of-care (POC) settings. POC diagnostic devices could potentially play an important role in environmental monitoring, health, and food safety. Use of a smartphone for nucleic acid testing has shown promising progress in endpoint as well as real-time analysis of various disease conditions. The emergence of smartphone-based POC devices together with paper-based sensors, microfluidic chips and digital droplet assays are used currently in many situations to provide quantitative detection of nucleic acid targets. State-of-the-art portable devices are commercially available and rapidly emerging smartphone-based POC devices that allow the performance of laboratory-quality colorimetric, fluorescent and electrochemical detection are described in this review. We present a comprehensive review of smartphone-based POC sensing applications, specifically on microbial diagnostics, assess their performance and propose recommendations for the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-100
Number of pages24
JournalCritical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Amplification methods
  • portable diagnostics
  • isothermal amplification
  • convective PCR
  • point-of-care


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