Affordable miRNA Diagnostics via Smartphone and Nanoparticle-Based Assay

In a latest examine printed within the journal Sensors, the event of a smartphone-based system known as Krometriks is mentioned, which makes use of nanotechnology to allow straightforward and fast colorimetric identification of microRNA (miRNAs).

Research: Smartphone-Based Device for Colorimetric Detection of MicroRNA Biomarkers Using Nanoparticle-Based Assay. Picture Credit score: Likoper/

The gadget includes a smartphone, a 3D printed attachment, and a specifically designed bespoke cellular app.

The Detection of MicroRNAs

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNA molecules roughly 25 nucleotides lengthy and play a essential function in gene regulation by attaching to untranslated sequences in messenger RNA (mRNA). Doing so permits these non-coding RNA molecules to function as regulators for post-transcriptional gene expression.

Dysregulation of miRNAs is widespread in most cancers, cardiac ailments, diabetes, neurodegenerative problems, and autoimmune situations.

MicroRNAs, subsequently, have the promise to be useful indicators for early prognosis and therapy monitoring. Consequently, fast identification and exact measurement of miRNA concentrations are of nice medical significance.

Conventional strategies for detecting miRNA ranges are typically time-consuming and labor-intensive, requiring skilled professionals and expensive gear. A surge of curiosity in designing various nanotech-based approaches for microRNA detection has been noticed. 

Detection programs have change into extra obtainable to medical doctors through the years, however nonetheless require complicated and huge testing gear in addition to certified professionals to function.

Trendy smartphones’ outstanding computational energy and ease of use, together with moveable optical detecting applied sciences, might provide a viable and accessible various to current laboratory gear.

(A) 3-D schematic diagram of the Krometriks system and its elements. The smartphone’s digital camera and flashlight act because the sensing detector and light-weight supply, respectively. (B) Image of the 3-D printed Krometriks accent. Picture Credit score: Krishnan, T., Wang, H.-N., & Vo-Dinh, T. ​​​​​​​

An Revolutionary Utility of Smartphones

Cell phones have more and more piqued the eye of researchers as organic detection gadgets due to their broad availability, ease of use, and elevated processing functionality. They provide a believable substitute for typical laboratory analytical equipment, which is usually giant and costly. Such gear additionally incessantly requires using a devoted workstation and specialists to function.

The in-built digital camera on cell phones is generally utilized because the inside sensor for biosensor purposes. The digital camera unit features as a two-dimensional picture sensor for microscope imagery in addition to colorimetric, fluorescent, and luminescent assessments.

Owing to the ever present availability of cellphones, it’s crucial to additional examine their operate as viable biomedical detection instruments for bedside testing, and worldwide healthcare makes use of in at this time’s medical scene.

Schematic diagram displaying the working precept of the colorimetric sensing technique utilizing nanoparticle-base assay. Left: Aggregated AgNPs with out goal. Proper: Disperesed AgNPs with goal.​​​​​​​ Picture Credit score: Krishnan, T., Wang, H.-N., & Vo-Dinh, T.

The Krometriks Gadget

On this work, a cellphone biosensing system for detecting and quantifying miRNA bio-indicators is explored.

The developed software termed the Krometriks, includes a cell phone outfitted with a 3D-printed attachment and built-in bespoke software program. A colorimetric check based mostly on silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) was developed.

The quantity of miRNA receptors within the pattern determines the extent of AgNP accumulation within the answer, and miRNA estimation is achieved by monitoring the answer’s change in shade. 

The Krometriks system was proven to be able to measuring nanoscale molar ranges of the miRNA goal with out the necessity for giant portions of the pattern. Moreover, Krometriks detection accuracy was proven to be equal to that of a conventional lab-based tabletop spectrophotometer.

Krometriks is compact, straightforward to make use of, and able to performing computerized evaluation, indicating its potential to be a useful colorimetry instrument for medical diagnostics on the bedside and in world healthcare environments with restricted sources.


(A) Absorption spectra of samples with totally different miR-21 goal concentrations (0–300 nM). A rise in goal focus ends in a rise in peak depth round 412 nm and a lower round 650 nm. (B) Footage of pattern options with Zero nM, 10 nM, and 100 nM of miR-21 goal. A bigger quantity of miR-21 goal ends in a stronger yellow shade of the pattern answer. Picture Credit score: Krishnan, T., Wang, H.-N., & Vo-Dinh, T.

The Krometriks gadget is made up of a cellphone, a 3D-printed attachment, and a bespoke cellular utility. Lighting is supplied by the cellphone’s flashlight, and the optical sensor is equipped by the built-in digital camera.

The cellphone attachment consists of 3D-printed items, diffusion paper, and a white piece of paper, making it cheap and easy to restore and handle because the diffusion paper and white paper may be readily modified if needed.

For pattern evaluation, expendable micro-cuvettes are employed. The design has been developed such that Krometriks could also be employed within the area, and in areas the place sources are scarce.

The functioning of Krometriks is managed utilizing a bespoke cellular utility developed for the Android OS. The software program affords a easy UI that may be navigated with minimal cellphone data. This system can automate picture assortment, information preparation, information manipulation, outcome presentation, and storage of information.

Is Krometriks a Viable Resolution?

Krometriks’ worth was proved by measuring the accuracy of its colorimetric detection outcomes towards that of a lab-based tabletop spectrophotometer. When evaluating the 2, this system generated measurements that had been pretty much as good as and even higher than the spectrophotometer.

Techniques just like the Krometriks present a useful colorimetry instrument for handy and economical miRNA detection, notably for bedside and world healthcare makes use of.

Continue reading: Recent Progress in Cancer Nanotechnology.


Krishnan, T., Wang, H.-N., & Vo-Dinh, T. (2021) Smartphone-Based mostly Gadget for Colorimetric Detection of MicroRNA Biomarkers Utilizing Nanoparticle-Based mostly Assay. Sensors, 21(23). Out there at:

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