Dartmouth Engineering Majors Build Smartphone App for Early Disease Detection
By Anna Fiorentino
April 2013 • CoolStuff
Four Dartmouth engineering undergraduates came up with a handy smartphone application and sweat collection device that allows for early disease detection. DiagnosMe, which became an LLC after Riley Ennis '15, Rob Lauzen '15, Katherine Franklin '15 and Kiah Williams '15 designed the device in Introduction to Engineering last fall, identifies proteins within a person’s sweat through the color change of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay biosensor, in a process called densitometry. Users simply clip on the sweat collection device while exercising, and the iPhone application then indicates health or illness by correlating the color density to the concentration of the specific biomolecule. The device allows anyone looking to monitor their health, particularly those who are at risk for certain chronic diseases, to detect if there is something wrong with their body. DiagnosMe is designed to catch anything from Alzheimer’s to type 2 diabetes in the early stages of progression, to improve prognoses and avoid additional medical bills.
“DiagnosMe goes beyond heart rate and blood pressure to show users what is really happening in their bodies before symptoms appear,” says Ennis. “There are millions of people being diagnosed with diseases like cancer and heart disease after their bodies have already been adversely affected and when financial and emotional costs of treatment are already very high.”
In a few short months, DiagnosMe received Dartmouth’s Philip R. Jackson Award, placed in the Mitosis Impact 2013 contest, and ranked second in the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Society Business Plan Competition. The students also appeared on ABC Television News in February from the New York Stock Exchange as one of the Kairos Society’s 50 most inventive student-run startups in the world.
“We met numerous helpful and influential mentors at the Kairos 50 Summit at the New York Stock Exchange. DiagnosMe was very well received and we are corresponding with a few people and companies from the event who are interested in getting involved,” says Ennis.
While other apps such as Fitbit or Jawbone’s UP already monitor vitals, DiagnosMe would be the first to give users direct information from their immune systems on a biological level. Still in the early stage of development, trials for DiagnosMe—which will likely cost about $50—have shown the disease progression of the flu in two individuals.
“We saw their immune systems' activity spike before symptoms arose, and then activity subsided once they were healthy again,” explains Ennis.
Ennis says the company is now looking to acquire funds for product development, manufacturing, and to build a review board before eventually partnering with a healthcare or health insurance company.
“Long term goals are to make DiagnosMe specific to individual illnesses, starting with breast cancer, and to get the product on the market,” says Ennis.comments powered by Disqus