Smartphone video microscope finds blood parasites

The challenge for medical professionals that work in the field, especially in developing nations where the lab facilities we take for granted in the US and other countries aren't available, is having the equipment needed to diagnoses medical conditions. A team of researchers led by engineers from UC Berkley has developed a new microscope that works in conjunction with a smartphone to detect and quantify infection by parasites in the blood.

The microscope is called the CellScope and the goal of the team that developed it is to help eradicate filarial diseases in Africa by providing critical information to healthcare workers in the field. The team behind the microscope device says that it had previously shown that mobile phones can be used for microscopy, but the new device is the first to combine imaging tech with software and hardware that automates a full diagnostic solution.

The CellScope device uses motion instead of molecular markers or stains to detect movement of the worms in human blood. The team says that this movement is as accurate as other methods of detecting the worms. The system uses a smartphone with a 3D printed plastic base where the blood sample is positioned. The base has LED lights, microcontrollers, gears, circuitry, and a USB port.

The device is controlled via an app and the phone communicates via Bluetooth with the controllers in the base that actually process and analyze the sample. The automation helps reduce human error. An algorithm is used to analyze the sample for the wiggling motion of the worms.

SOURCE: Berkeley