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New Microscope From UC Berkeley Uses Smartphone Camera To Analyze Parasites In Blood

BERKELEY (CBS SF) – Researchers at UC Berkeley developed a microscope that used a smartphone to detect parasitic worms in a person's blood. The new device, called a CellScope, could help provide critical information to health providers in the field.

"The video CellScope provides accurate, fast results that enable health workers to make potentially life-saving treatment decisions in the field," UC Berkeley associate chair and bioengineering professor Daniel Fletcher said in a university statement.

To make the device, researchers paired a smartphone and a 3-D printed plastic base that holds the sample of blood. The base holds LED lights, circuitry, gears and a USB port and is controlled by an app.

A video provided by the university shows the device in action.

How CellScope Loa Works by UC Berkeley on YouTube

When a healthcare worker activates the app, gears move the blood sample in front of the camera and an algorithm determines how many parasitic worms are in the sample. Researchers said the test takes two minutes and is as accurate as conventional screening methods.

The CellScope was tested in Cameroon, which is battling with river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, both debilitating parasitic worm diseases. Researchers plan to expand studying the CellScope to 40,000 people.

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