Point-of-care quantification of blood-borne filarial parasites with a mobile phone microscope
There is a very interesting publication in the latest issue of Science, Point-of-care quantification of blood-borne filarial parasites with a mobile phone microscope DOI describing the use of a smart phone to captures and analyzes videos of microfilarial motion in whole blood.
Parasitic worms are a major health hazard in many parts of the developing world and the drugs used to treat the disease can have serious side-effects so it is important to restrict the medicines to the appropriate patients. Researchers had previously tried developing ways to test blood for antibodies or to stain the parasites for easier identification under a microscope, but the techniques were never fast, cheap, or effective enough.
Instead they use a mobile phone microscope that uses motion—the “wriggling” motion of individual microfilariae—instead of molecular markers or stained morphology to count microfilariae in whole blood. This means that the results are available in minutes as opposed to many hours or days.
The technology uses an unmodified iPhone and readily available components, at the moment the devices are built by hand. Analysis is carried by a custom iPhone app that controls operation of the mobile phone microscope and enable one-touch counting of L. loa microfilariae in whole blood. All source code is available on GitHub.
Collaborations with the CellScope developers at UC Berkeley mean this technology is now being applied to many other applications
How CellScope Loa Works