CellScope - fluorescence microscope - can help diagnose diseases

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Washington, July 22 (ANI): US researchers have developed a cell phone microscope, or CellScope, that not only takes color images of malaria parasites, but also of tuberculosis bacteria labeled with fluorescent markers.

Brainchild of University of California, Berkeley, the prototype CellScope has been described in the July 22 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE.

The revolutionary CellScope can identify the markers of disease.

"The same regions of the world that lack access to adequate health facilities are, paradoxically, well-served by mobile phone networks," said Dan Fletcher, UC Berkeley associate professor of bioengineering and head of the research team developing the CellScope.

"We can take advantage of these mobile networks to bring low-cost, easy-to-use lab equipment out to more remote settings," he added.

For the discovery, engineers attached compact microscope lenses to a holder fitted to a cell phone. Using samples of infected blood and sputum, the researchers were able to use the camera phone to capture bright field images of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria in humans, and sickle-shaped red blood cells.

They were also able to take fluorescent images of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterial culprit that causes TB in humans. Moreover, the researchers showed that the TB bacteria could be automatically counted using image analysis software.

"The images can either be analyzed on site or wirelessly transmitted to clinical centers for remote diagnosis," said David Breslauer, co-lead author of the study and a graduate student in the UC San Francisco/UC Berkeley Bioengineering Graduate Group.

"The system could be used to help provide early warning of outbreaks by shortening the time needed to screen, diagnose and treat infectious diseases," he added.

"A CellScope device with fluorescence could potentially be used by patients undergoing chemotherapy who need to get regular blood counts," said Fletcher.

"The patient could transmit from home the image or analyzed data to a health care professional, reducing the number of clinic visits necessary," he added. (ANI)

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