An open-source smartphone app for the quantitative evaluation of thin-layer chromatographic analyses in medicine quality screening

Overview of the TLCyzer app.


Substandard and falsified medicines present a serious threat to public health. Simple, low-cost screening tools are important in the identification of such products in low- and middle-income countries. In the present study, a smartphone-based imaging software was developed for the quantification of thin-layer chromatographic (TLC) analyses. A performance evaluation of this tool in the TLC analysis of 14 active pharmaceutical ingredients according to the procedures of the Global Pharma Health Fund (GPHF) Minilab was carried out, following international guidelines and assessing accuracy, repeatability, intermediate precision, specificity, linearity, range and robustness of the method. Relative standard deviations of 2.79% and 4.46% between individual measurements were observed in the assessments of repeatability and intermediate precision, respectively. Small deliberate variations of the conditions hardly affected the results. A locally producible wooden box was designed which ensures TLC photography under standardized conditions and shielding from ambient light. Photography and image analysis were carried out with a low-cost Android-based smartphone. The app allows to share TLC photos and quantification results using messaging apps, e-mail, cable or Bluetooth connections, or to upload them to a cloud. The app is available free of charge as General Public License (GPL) open-source software, and interested individuals or organizations are welcome to use and/or to further improve this software.

In Scientific Reports
Mark Boss
Mark Boss
Research Scientist

I’m a researcher at Stability AI with research interests in the intersection of machine learning and computer graphics.