Mobile Phone Microscope Gets Power Boost, No Parasite Is Safe

UC Berkley's CellScope microscope transforms an ordinary mobile phone camera into a powerful high-mag microscope. And now it has been given an upgrade that makes it possible to take colour shots of parasites and bacteria labelled with fluorescent markers.

To achieve this, the researchers used filters to block out background light and convert the light source—a simple LED—into the 460-nanometer wavelength required to excite the green fluorescent dye in the sample. After that they were were able to take fluorescent images of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (which causes TB in humans) with a 3.2-megapixel off-the-shelf phone camera. The images were then automatically analyzed using software to show the total of bacteria in the blood sample.

Traditional instruments with the same capability can be bulky and extremely expensive, which is why the CellScope can have a profound impact on health care in developing countries. It is still in the prototype phase at the moment, so there is no telling when it might go to manufacturing. [CNET]

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