Image of the Day: Malaria Hologram

Optical engineers have developed a portable field microscope that could aid the diagnosis of diseased cells.

By | November 5, 2017

Holographic microscope image depicting the differences between healthy human red blood cells (top row) and malaria-infected cells (bottom row)BAHRAM JAVIDI, UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUTResearchers at the University of Connecticut have developed a portable holographic microscope that could become a reliable tool for diagnosing diseased cells. 

The device could help medical workers in Africa and Asia identify patients suffering from malaria, where, there is often little access to necessary equipment for laboratory analysis of a blood sample in remote areas. Abnormalities in red blood cells formed by the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum cause light to pass through them differently. The new microscope detects these nanoscale differences and is capable of visualizing them, whereas conventional light microscopes have limited ability to do so. The holograms created by the microscope could also be used for rapid analysis of cell abnormalities associated with sickle cell disease, HIV, and cancer.  

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