Lens-free microscopy platform shows promise for rapid gout diagnosis

A team of researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has developed a portable, lens-free microscopy system that can diagnose gout (the most common type of inflammatory arthritis), and could allow many more primary care doctors to screen for the disease.

Related: Compact devices compete with high-end instruments

The research was led by Aydogan Ozcan, UCLA's Chancellor's Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering and associate director of the California NanoSystems Institute, and John FitzGerald, a UCLA clinical professor of rheumatology.

Gout occurs when uric acid levels in the blood increase to the point that the acid crystallizes, leaving crystal deposits in the joints, tendons, and ligaments that trigger severe inflammation. The disease is caused by a combination of factors, including diet, medication and genetics, and it occurs more commonly in those who consume red meat, drink large amounts of beer, and are overweight.

The definitive test for gout calls for a doctor to draw joint fluid from a patient and then use a device called a compensated polarized light microscope to identify uric acid crystals in the sample. But recent studies have shown that primary care doctors usually opt to make their diagnoses without performing the procedure. In addition, polarized light microscopes are bulky, weigh more than 20 lbs., and cost $10,000–20,000 or more. They also have a relatively small field of view, which can make it time-consuming to examine a large sample, and can produce unreliable test results. The examiners' ability to detect crystals can also vary widely depending on their level of training.

But the research team's platform, based on lens-free on-chip microscopy, can perform wide-field imaging without the need for lenses. It uses holographic imaging to produce high-resolution images of the crystal-like objects—the telltale signs of gout—in the patient's fluid sample.

The lens-free microscopy platform uses holographic imaging to produce high-resolution images of uric acid crystals in gout patients' fluid samples. (Courtesy of the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute)

The technology works by sending a stream of light through a polarizer, through a sample of the fluid on a microscope slide, and then through another polarizer before it reaches an image sensor microchip, a component also found in mobile phone cameras and webcams. The image sensor captures the holographic diffraction pattern produced by the sample and feeds it to a computer with software that can quickly generate an image of the sample. The platform can use the entire active area of the image sensor chip—about 20–30 mm2—allowing for rapid analysis of larger volume of samples. It also can be used at the point of care and in clinical settings with limited resources, Ozcan says.

The technology could ultimately be used to diagnose other conditions that are caused by crystals forming in bodily fluids and that are currently diagnosed using conventional polarized light microscopes, such as kidney stones.

Full details of the work appear in the journal Scientific Reports; for more information, please visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep28793.

Get All the BioOptics World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to BioOptics World Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now
Related Articles

New bioimaging technique offers clear view of nervous system

Scientists at Ludwig-Maximilians University have developed a technique for turning the body of a deceased rodent entirely transparent, revealing the central nervous system in unprecedented clarity....

Fluorescent jellyfish proteins light up unconventional laser

Safer lasers to map your cells could soon be in the offing -- all thanks to the humble jellyfish. Conventional lasers, like the pointer you might use to entertain your cat, produce light by emittin...

Microscope detects one million-plus biomarkers for sepsis in 30 minutes

A microscope has the potential to simultaneously detect more than one million biomarkers for sepsis at the point of care.

Eye test that pairs two in vivo imaging methods may detect Parkinson's earlier

A low-cost, noninvasive eye test pairs two in vivo imaging methods to help detect Parkinson's before clinical symptoms appear.

BLOGS

Neuro15 exhibitors meet exacting demands: Part 2

Increasingly, neuroscientists are working with researchers in disciplines such as chemistry and p...

Why be free?

A successful career contributed to keeping OpticalRayTracer—an optical design software program—fr...

LASER Munich 2015 is bio-bent

LASER World of Photonics 2015 included the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics among its si...

White Papers

Understanding Optical Filters

Optical filters can be used to attenuate or enhance an image, transmit or reflect specific wavele...

How can I find the right digital camera for my microscopy application?

Nowadays, image processing is found in a wide range of optical microscopy applications. Examples ...

CONNECT WITH US

            

Twitter- BioOptics World

Copyright © 2007-2016. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK. All Rights Reserved.PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS