Smartphone add-on performs malaria diagnosis at low cost

Researchers at Texas A&M University have developed a smartphone-based device that can diagnose malaria at the point of care.

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Researchers at Texas A&M University have developed a novel point-of-care device for field-based diagnosis of malaria using a smartphone. The mobile-optical-polarization imaging device (MOPID) attaches to smartphones or tablets and co-opts the camera to detect birefringent hemozoin in histological samples, which is indicative of malarial infection.

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Researchers at Texas A&M University (College Station, TX) have developed a smartphone-based device that can diagnose malaria at the point of care. The device, dubbed the mobile-optical-polarization imaging device (MOPID), attaches to smartphones or tablets and uses their cameras to detect a particular biomarker for malarial infection in histological samples.

The research team developed MOPID recognizing that evaluation of Giemsa-stained blood smears via brightfield microscopy, which is the gold standard for malaria detection, often requires skilled technicians and laboratory environments with large, expensive pieces of equipment that aren't available in remote, resource-poor areas. MOPID is far lower in cost, the researchers claim, and has demonstrated resolution of 1.05 μm, system magnification in the range of 50x, and field of view measuring 0.78 × 0.79 mm, which compares well to results generated from the expensive brightfield microscopy method.

The team is working to make the MOPID device smaller and lower in cost, with the ultimate goal of pricing the test under $1 per result worldwide. They are also concentrating on preparing devices for in vivo field testing in Rwanda.

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