A Medical Lab in the Palm of Your Hand

A Medical Lab in the Palm of Your Hand

Sure, your cell phone can take pictures and send text messages, but can it detect malaria?

UCLA scientists have found a way to bring medical diagnostic tests to resource-poor areas by transforming cell phones into cheap, portable gadgets that can monitor and detect diseases like malaria and HIV.

As Wired explains:

UCLA researcher Dr. Aydogan Ozcan images thousands of blood cells instantly by placing them on an off-the-shelf camera sensor and lighting them with a filtered-light source (coherent light, for you science buffs). The filtered light exposes distinctive qualities of the cells, which are then interpreted by Ozcan's custom software. By analyzing the cell types present in a much larger sample, a more accurate diagnosis can be made in a matter of minutes.

Currently, the software to analyze these images runs on a desktop computer, but Ozcan’s team is working to create software that runs on the cell phone device itself.

This technology is still in developmental stages, and skeptics are already lighting up online discussion boards. But the promise of quick, accurate and low-cost blood testing in the world's most remote areas is definitely exciting. And if this idea does become a widespread reality, here’s hoping that effective treatment for those diagnosed follows quickly on its heels.

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