Smartphones Being Used As Microscopes

Scientists have turned the smartphone into a microscope as well as other tools in the medical field that could help to fight diseases in some of the most remote areas on the globe.

The most recent work came from researchers at U.C. Berkley who used a video microscope run by a smartphone to target a big challenge in areas of Central Africa where devastating infections are being caused by miniscule parasitic worms.

The study, which is just a small pilot one, is in Cameroon and showed how the smartphone could measure in just minutes certain types of worms that were wriggling around in just a drop of blood that had been finger pricked.

The device rapidly indentified who was a candidate for a medication that was very important and who was a risk of suffering a severe side effect from the same drug.

If larger studies work out, the CellScope Loa as it is called could help revive a discontinued program to eliminate the diseases that cause disability and blindness in the area, reported the team this week.

The instrument essentially acted as an inexpensive portable medical lab but with no lab tech needed which is becoming a trend in the medical field for smartphone users that go well beyond the simpler tasks of emailing photos to the doctor or measuring heart rates.

This is just the latest in a number of attempts of using smartphones as today’s mini-labs. Scientists from Columbia University recently created a new device that is powered by a smartphone that is able to detect signs of certain sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. The tool is going through pilot testing in Rwanda.

Doctors in Massachusetts are using a tool that clips onto the camera of a smartphone and detects cancer in tissue samples as well as blood. While other researchers are using cameras on phones to detect parasites in stool samples.

In certain areas of Africa, the treatment has been suspended due to some people having a third worm show up in tests. The worm, known as Loa Loa can trigger a fatal reaction to the current medicine and now for the time being the only way not to risk that is by performing manual blood tests that take hours and need specially trained personal.

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