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A portable device for nucleic acid quantification powered by sunlight, a flame or electricity


A decentralized approach to diagnostics can decrease the time to treatment of infectious diseases in resource-limited settings. Yet most modern diagnostic tools require stable electricity and are not portable. Here, we describe a portable device for isothermal nucleic-acid quantification that can operate with power from electricity, sunlight or a flame, and that can store heat from intermittent energy sources, for operation when electrical power is not available or reliable. We deployed the device in two Ugandan health clinics, where it successfully operated through multiple power outages, with equivalent performance when powered via sunlight or electricity. A direct comparison between the portable device and commercial qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) machines for samples from 71 Ugandan patients (29 of which were tested in Uganda) for the presence of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus DNA showed 94% agreement, with the four discordant samples having the lowest concentration of the herpesvirus DNA. The device's flexibility in power supply provides a needed solution for on-field diagnostics.

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