White blood cell counts provide an important measurement for diagnosis of various diseases, but a lab setup is typically required to prepare and visualize patient samples. Now a team from Rice University has developed a portable lightweight digital fluorescence microscope that can perform three part white blood cell differential measurements just about anywhere.
The all-plastic device that has three lenses takes a 20 microliter sample of blood mixed with acridine orange dye. The dye is able to penetrate cells and changes color when reacting with DNA and RNA molecules. This color change can be detected using the microscope. The cells show up as different color dots, allowing anyone to easily count them. It requires no adjusting by the user and can be transported easily between different facilities.
Although the current device cost around $3,000 to build, the Rice team believes that mass manufacturing will bring that closer to $600. That would make it a lot more attractive to remote clinics around the world on a tight budget looking to introduce somewhat more advanced diagnostics.
Study in Biomedical Optics Express: All-plastic, miniature, digital fluorescence microscope for three part white blood cell differential measurements at the point of care