CEA-Leti’s demonstrates a microscope that is one-tenth of the cost of a traditional lens-based alternative. No need to send samples to the lab as healthcare professionals can operate this device at the patient’s bedside to diagnose spinal meningitis in about a minute. This could be a boon to rural areas that don’t have the equipment or specialized personnel for its operation.
CEA-Leti indicates that
“It provides accurate countings of white blood cells (leukocytes) in cerebrospinal fluid, which is required to diagnose spinal meningitis, an acute inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.”Dec 19, 2019 press release
Sophia Morales, describes their solution as smaller, smarter, and simpler. It is small because the hardware is effectively a CMOS camera sensor combined with a near-infrared LED. The smarts come from holographic reconstruction algorithms that digitally recreate the image on a display. Artificial intelligence software detects and analyzes the sample. What makes it simple is that these processes happen automatically.
Working with an ecosystem of partners, this smart microscope is adaptable to other applications, including complete blood count, blood coagulation testing, monitoring of bioprocesses in bioreactors for the pharmaceutical industry, and 2D imaging for standard biological research and drug screening.
Don’t expect this to be in your doctor’s office anytime soon, as Morales explains this early preview still has to go through regulatory approvals.