Finnish researchers have developed a low-cost, easily transported mobile microscope, currently being tested in Tanzania.
The invention enables the use of rapid, computer-assisted remote diagnostics, which can help ease the global dearth of medical experts.
“To make mobile diagnostics possible, we first need a cheap and reliable device which is easy to move around and can digitise samples taken from the patient. However, just developing this device is not enough. The entire process, from digitisation and transmission of the image to diagnostics and returning the information back to the patient’s contact person, must be flawless,” Johan Lundin at the University of Helsinki’s Institute for Molecular Medicine (FIMM) explains.
Lundin’s group designed the device, known as MoMic, to use very cheap components originally intended for mobile phones. However, MoMic differs from many add-on devices which seek to generate microscope-like magnification when installed on top of a mobile phone’s camera lens. The new device can attain laboratory-levels of microscopic definition and scan a sufficient area of the sample to enable diagnosis. The device is also small enough to fit in a typical camera bag.
The device and the full process of the remote diagnosis is currently being tested in field conditions in Tanzania, and another test period will be conducted later this year in Finnish operating rooms. Project partners include the University of Oulu, the University of Muhimbili in Tanzania and a few small Finnish companies. In Tanzania, the research group will focus on developing remote diagnostics for cancer and parasitic diseases such as malaria.
Photo by Ari Hallami