July 22, 2009
In a major publication in the latest issue of PLoS ONE, Berkeley Bioengineering researchers unveiled their revolutionary cell phone platform for remote fluorescent microscopy.
BioE Associate Professor Dan Fletcher’s team has developed a cell phone microscope, or CellScope, that not only takes color images of malaria parasites, but of tuberculosis bacteria labeled with fluorescent markers. The device shows great promise for medical diagnostics in remote areas of the developing world, where health care workers in the field can capture images and send them to experts for analysis.
The team has previously demonstrated the CellScope for bright field microscopy, which uses simple white light — such as from a bulb or sunlight — to illuminate samples. The latest development adds to the repertoire fluorescent microscopy, in which a special dye emits a specific fluorescent wavelength to tag a target – such as a parasite, bacteria or cell – in the sample.
“Fluorescence microscopy requires more equipment — such as filters and special lighting — than a standard light microscope, which makes them more expensive,” said Fletcher. “In this paper we’ve shown that the whole fluorescence system can be constructed on a cell phone using the existing camera and relatively inexpensive components.”
Other researchers on the team include BioE graduate student David Breslauer, Robi Maamari, a UC Berkeley research associate in bioengineering and co-lead author of the study; Neil Switz, a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Biophysics Graduate Group; and Wilbur Lam, a UC Berkeley post-doctoral fellow in bioengineering and a UCSF pediatric hematologist.
Funding for the CellScope project comes from the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Blum Center for Developing Economies, both at UC Berkeley, and from Microsoft Research, Intel and the Vodafone Americas Foundation.
Read more at the UC Berkeley News Center.