A Smartphone Microscope Detects Parasites in Blood
Dr. Peter Hotez, Sabin President and Director of the Sabin Product Development Partnership, is quoted in an article that highlights work from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who have developed a smartphone-run video microscope that can measure certain worms in an individual's blood and determine quickly if they are a candidate for an important medication.
"The new research targets a public health dilemma: A drug named ivermectin can fight two kinds of microscopic worms, spread to people through insect bites, that cause debilitating infections in much of Africa — river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, a disabling swelling."
"A small pilot study in Cameroon showed the device could measure within minutes certain worms wriggling in a finger-prick of blood, rapidly identifying who is a candidate for an important medication — and who’s at risk for a severe side effect from that drug."
Mass drug administration campaigns are underway to deliver this life saving medication to communities, however, in some parts of Central Africa, the treatment campaigns were suspended because some people harbored another worm, Loa Loa, that can trigger a potentially fatal neurologic reaction to Ivermectin. Further funding is currently underway from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NIH, and others so this device can be tested on a larger population to determine efficacy.