01 Sep 2012
Researchers are working towards making a smartphone that is capable of carrying out AIDS tests in rural parts of Africa that are the worst hit by the disease, a researcher revealed on Friday.
The team of South African and South Korean researchers have developed a microscope and an application that can photograph and analyse blood samples in areas far from laboratories to diagnose HIV and even measure the health of immune systems.
"Our idea was to obtain images and analyse images on this smartphone using applications," News24 quoted Jung Kyung Kim, a professor in biomedical engineering at Kookmin University in South Korea, as saying.
The gadget, called Smartscope, is a small 1mm microscope and light which clips over a smartphone's camera.
A standard chip with a blood sample then slides into the gadget in front of the microscope. Next, a special phone programme photographs the sample and analyses the cells.
The team hopes that trials in clinics may start next year.
A different prototype developed in the United States takes tests in the field that need to be sent to a computer for analysis.
But the Smartscope will itself be able to do a CD4 cell count – a measure of white blood cells, which determines when treatment starts.
"Its basic function is to count those CD4 cells for diagnosis," Kim said.
The new technology is destined for AIDS treatment in remote communities in South Africa and Swaziland, where clinics often don't have the technology to do these tests effectively.