The scientific journal Science Transnational Medicine recently published the results of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley. The research concerned the integration of a video microscope to a smartphone in order to rapidly and effectively detect the level of parasites in blood.
Affordable technology is quickly gaining ground in the medical field and allowing teams of researchers and health workers to adapt to a rapidly evolving environment that allows no drawbacks or losses.
To this end, the UC Berkeley team in collaboration with the NIAID integrated the CellScope Loa on an Apple iPhone 5s to detect the movement of parasites in blood samples. The trial was done on the parasitic filarial worm Loa on a small number of patients in Cameroon, thus the name of the integrated microscope.
CellScope Loa captured and analyzed videos of the movement of microfilariae characteristic to the Loa worm. The analysis resulted in the quantification of microfilariae in less than two minutes, drawing the acclamation of the international medical community. The results of the trial in Cameroon using the new integrated microscope were compared to results obtained using traditional methods. It turned out that the new technology correctly identified those who present the parasite in their blood.
For the time being, CellScope is still a trial technology, but steps are taken to prepare it for broader use. The results it yielded in Cameroon alone are the necessary and sufficient vetting points that this technology needs.
If passed on to broad use, CellScope presents a handful of benefits characteristic to 21st century technology. It could save researchers a great deal of precious time in identifying patients infected with blood parasites and it could minimize the efforts of identifying the infections in the early stages. Add the benefit of reducing the risk of blood sample loss and the ease with which the new technology can be used, and it is safe to state that the CellScope could prove a breakthrough in medical technology.
Its appliance is crucial especially in Central Africa where tropical diseases pose great risks to the population. Mobile health services or patient home monitoring count among the vast number of the device’s uses.
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