LEDs enable low-cost microscope for fast tuberculosis detection

NOVEMBER 4, 2008 -- Carl Zeiss (Jena, Germany) and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (Geneva, Switzerland), have partnered to develop a new fluorescence microscope that promises fast, reliable, and affordable detection of tuberculosis (TB). Zeiss will supply the LED-based device at low cost to the public health sector of the countries worst affected by the contagious, fatal disease.

NOVEMBER 4, 2008 -- Carl Zeiss (Jena, Germany) and FIND, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (Geneva, Switzerland), have partnered to develop a new fluorescence microscope that promises fast, reliable, and affordable detection of tuberculosis. Carl Zeiss will supply the device, called Primo Star iLED, at low cost to the public health sector of the 22 high TB-burden countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these countries account for 80 percent of global tuberculosis cases. TB, along with HIV and malaria, tops the statistics of fatal infectious diseases.

Fluorescence microscopy is known to be up to 4 times faster than traditional brightfield microscopy for tuberculosis, and published studies report 10% greater sensitivity for detection. The Primo Star iLED offers these advantages of fluorescence microscopy, but in an inexpensive and rugged format.

Easy switching between fluorescence and brightfield microscopy makes the microscope suitable for all simple laboratory and routine applications. Thus, other infectious diseases such as malaria can also be detected.

One special feature of the microscope is that the fluorescence is excited with an energy-saving LED. Compared to traditional fluorescence excitation by mercury lamps, a LED has a very long lifetime, is inexpensive and energy-saving. In the event of power fluctuations or failure, the microscope can be battery-operated for several hours. Primo Star iLED with reflected light fluorescence illumination offers a significantly better signal-to-noise ratio and completely eliminates the risk of glare. The microscope is extremely robust and easy to use. "Fluorescence microscopy has been one of the core competencies of Carl Zeiss for the past 100 years. We are very proud to be able to contribute to the global fight against tuberculosis with this know-how," says Dr. Bernhard Ohnesorge, Vice President and General Manager of Carl Zeiss MicroImaging GmbH.

"We are pleased that our collaboration with Carl Zeiss enables us to provide the fluorescence microscope to low resource countries at a favorable price," says Dr. Giorgio Roscigno, Chief Executive Officer of FIND. Based in Geneva, the Swiss-based Foundation supports the development and introduction of new and affordable diagnostic products to combat infectious diseases in developing countries.

In view of the development of multi-resistant strains and HIV co-infection, the WHO estimates that tuberculosis will cause 30 million deaths in the next ten years. Today, already one in three persons is infected with the tuberculosis bacterium.

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Primo Star iLED

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