Smartphone Microscope Helps Detect Blood Parasite Levels

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Using an Apple iPhone, a team of US scientists has developed a mobile phone microscope that rapidly detects parasite levels in blood.The team from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health and University of California, Berkeley developed the device to measure blood levels of the parasitic filarial worm Loa.

To rapidly screen for Loa infections in community settings, the scientists developed CellScope Loa, a video microscope integrating an Apple iPhone 5s.

With the help of a custom iPhone app, the device automatically captures and analyses videos of the characteristic “wriggling” motion of microfilariae, enabling quantification of microfilariae in blood from a finger prick in less than two minutes.

“No special preparation of the blood is required, limiting potential error and sample loss, and healthcare workers need minimal training to use the automated device,” the authors noted.

The point-of-care device may enable safe resumption of mass drug administration campaigns to eradicate the parasitic diseases onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis).

Efforts to eliminate these diseases in Central Africa through community-wide administration of antiparasitic drugs have been suspended due to potentially fatal drug-associated side effects in people with high blood levels of Loa microfilariae, the filarial worm’s larval form.

A potential solution is to identify and exclude such people from mass drug administration.

“However, standard methods for measuring microfilariae are time-consuming and must be performed by trained personnel with laboratory equipment,” the team wrote.

Screening of blood samples from potentially Loa-infected people showed that CellScope Loa results correspond well to those obtained by standard methods, correctly identifying people with microfilarial levels over a certain threshold.

Although additional work is needed to prepare the technology for broad use, the researchers predict that a team of three workers could screen up to 200 people during the four-hour midday window when Loa circulates at its peak in the blood.

The work is detailed in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

OnePlus Two to Sport Snapdragon 810 SoC, Tips CEO Along With Price

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While OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has already given a Q3 2015 time-frame for the launch of its One smartphone successor, the company CEO has now tipped the price and processor of the OnePlus Two.

OnePlus CEO Liu Zuohu (aka Pete Lau) on Wednesday asked his followers on Weibo what price tag the OnePlus Two should sport if it comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC. After receiving several answers, Zuohu on Thursday agreed with some of his followers who had suggested a price of CNY 2,499 (roughly Rs. 25,000). Zuohu had asked, “If OnePlus Two comes with Snapdragon 810, what do you think will be the price?” and then later replied, “2,499 Yuan seems to be a reasonable price.”

While Zuohu has not confirmed if the price or processor mentioned have now been finalised for the OnePlus Two, the post certainly whets our appetite for an affordable (under Rs. 30,000) Snapdragon 810-powered handset heading our way.

To be noted is that OnePlus last month also confirmed a cheaper handset will be launched towards the end of the year, so those smartphone enthusiasts who are finding the tipped price of the OnePlus Two difficult to stomach could look forward to the more affordable handset instead. The company had then also said it aims to sell between 3 and 5 million smartphones in 2015, and 10 million in 2016.

A report in January tipped that the OnePlus Two smartphone will feature the same 5.5-inch display panel as seen on the original OnePlus One, but with an increased resolution from full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) to QHD (1440×2560 pixels). The report also tipped that 4GB of RAM will accompany the Snapdragon 810 processor, while a 3300mAh battery has also been tipped.

The OnePlus Two was additionally seen listed by a Chinese e-commerce website in December. While some of the specifications shown in the listing matched with those mentioned above, the SoC listed was slightly less powered. As per the listing, the smartphone featured a 5.5-inch display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, 32GB of inbuilt storage, 16-megapixel rear and 5-megapixel front-facing camera, all backed by a 3300mAh battery. The connectivity options included were 4G networks, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Micro-USB and OTG connectivity.