A research team led by UC Berkeley engineers has developed a new smartphone microscope that uses video to automatically detect and quantify infection by parasitic worms in a drop of blood. This next generation of UC Berkeley’s CellScope technology could help revive efforts to eradicate debilitating filarial diseases in Africa by providing critical information to health providers in the field…
…The UC Berkeley engineers teamed up with Dr. Thomas Nutman from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and collaborators from Cameroon and France to develop the device. They conducted a pilot study in Cameroon, where health officials have been battling the parasitic worm diseases onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis.
The video CellScope, which uses motion instead of molecular markers or fluorescent stains to detect the movement of worms, was as accurate as conventional screening methods, the researchers found. The results of the pilot study are reported today (Wednesday, May 6) in the journal Science Translational Medicine…
…For this latest generation of the mobile phone microscope, named CellScope Loa, the researchers paired a smartphone with a 3D-printed plastic base where the sample of blood is positioned. The base included LED lights, microcontrollers, gears, circuitry and a USB port.
Control of the device is automated through an app the researchers developed for this purpose. With a single touch of the screen by the healthcare worker, the phone communicates wirelessly via Bluetooth to controllers in the base to process and analyze the sample of blood. Gears move the sample in front of the camera, and an algorithm automatically analyzes the telltale “wriggling” motion of the worms in video captured by the phone. The worm count is then displayed on the screen.
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