3d printing can be a real boon for countries where there is severe scarcity of medical devices and equipment’s. We have seen how 3d printed prosthetics is changing the way we look at the problem of child amputees. The opportunities for the application of 3d printing in the field of health care are unlimited; all that’s needed is changing the approach at looking at the problem. One such problem that the African nations are suffering from is a disease called Loa loafilariasis. It’s a disease caused by the bite of a Deer fly or Mango fly. Also popularly known as African eyeworm, a patient suffering from this disease may occasionally have the Loa loa filarial worm travel all the way to the eye of the patient where it has to be removed using surgical methods from the conjunctiva.
The easiest cure to kill this worm is early detection and timely prescription of the drug diethylcarbamazine (DEC). To detect this worm in the body a Blood test is required and as we all know that equipment’s to do the same is hardly available in poor countries of Africa. To solve the issue of acute scarcity of Blood testing tools, a team of researchers from the University of California Berkeley have developed a 3d printed device that uses the camera of high tech cell phones and automates detection of parasites in blood using onboard hardware .
The Body of this simple to make device is made using a regular desktop FDM printer. Once the sample of the blood is taken and inserted into the 3d printed microscope called CellScope. The camera of the phone which is attached to theCellScope takes a 5 second video which is then evaluated using the onboard Arduino. The device scans for the existence of the parasite as well the number of worms. The result is almost instantaneously displayed on the App on the Phone.
Daniel Fletcher, an associate chair and professor of bioengineering, whose UC Berkeley lab pioneered the CellScopesaid “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. The video CellScope provides accurate, fast results that enable health workers to make potentially life-saving treatment decisions in the field.”
Mr. Fletcher also told that with devices like CellScope, previously neglected tropical diseases like Hookworm, River blindness, lymphatic filariasis can be detected in time and a lot of patients can be cured in time. He was quoted saying that ‘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,’
Early testing of the 3d printed CellScope done in Cameroon has shown promising results, the team has now decided to mass test the device on as many as 40,000 people all across the country. If the test are successful the team of developers plans to make the knowhow of this device easily accessible for people to use.