Innovation That Matters

Mobile app diagnoses malaria from a single drop of blood

Sport & Fitness

The virtual ink had barely dried on our story about the Skin Scan app for diagnosing melanoma when we received word of another, equally compelling mobile diagnostic tool. Focusing this time on the millions of people at risk from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world, Lifelens is a project that has created a smartphone app to diagnose the insidious, mosquito-borne disease. More than one million people die each year from Malaria, and roughly 85 percent of them are children under the age of 5, the Lifelens project notes. The most prevalent diagnostic tool, meanwhile, is the rapid diagnostic test (RDT), which is known to be associated with a 60 percent incidence rate of false positive results. That, in turn, results in the treatment of many people who don’t actually have Malaria, driving up the costs of anti-Malaria treatment significantly. The Lifelens project, on the other hand, aims to make the process both cheaper and more accurate by analyzing blood digitally instead. Specifically, once blood is stained to reveal the Malaria parasites, the project’s smartphone app can analyze a magnified image of a drop of blood captured via simple finger prick, including counting the various types of cells it includes. Malarial parasites are among those it can identify, making false results much less likely. Once analysis is complete, data is uploaded to the Web, where it can be mapped for a high-level view of where Malaria outbreaks are occurring. The video below demonstrates Lifelens in action:
Melanoma and Malaria, of course, are just two of countless other afflictions that plague mankind. Mobile entrepreneurs: where else could smartphones be used to save lives? Spotted by: Katharina Kieck



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