Smartphone Scans for Parasites in Your Blood

By Nick Cowen on at

If you've ever wanted to scan your bloodstream for parasites – and let's face it, who – you're now able to do it through the use of a smartphone.

Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed and refined a smartphone microscope attachment called CellScope, which turns a smartphone into a clinical grade microscope. The CellScope attachment films a drop of blood and then the smartphone user can analyse it through an app, and detect irregular movement in it – such as parasitical worms.

The research, which has been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, shows that the device was successful as a screening method in Cameroon. While it may sound like blue sky science, the CellScope could represent a rather large step forward in battling tropical diseases.

Treatment for two debilitating diseases – river blindness and lymphatic filariasis – had been suspended as the drugs available to combat them could prove lethal to patients infected with Loa Loa worms, which CellScope, handily, can detect.

CellScope, then, could help revive these efforts.

"We previously showed that mobile phones can be used for microscopy, but this is the first device that combines the imaging technology with hardware and software automation to create a complete diagnostic solution," said Daniel Fletcher, an associate chair and professor of bioengineering at UC Berkeley.