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Cheap, small and uses a smartphone: a new microscope to fight antibiotic resistance

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Posted January 31, 2017

The new microscope is small, portable and affordable, which makes it extremely useful in poorer parts of the world. Image credit: su.se.

Scientists developed a new microscope, which can be used to diagnose cancerous tumours and infections. It is quite impressive, because it allows health practitioners to see how the DNA chains in the sample look like, meaning that form of cancer, bacteria or virus involved in the disease can be identified very accurately. But what is so new about it? Well, it estimated to cost much less than $500 and uses a smartphone camera.

It is amazing what can be achieved using simple everyday technology. This new device is not just some kind of a novelty item for hobbyists – it is an accurate diagnosis tools that many laboratories in hospitals will benefit from around the world. It will become a useful weapon in the on-going battle against antibiotic resistance. Furthermore, it is small, easily manufactured, cheap and very flexible as samples of tumours or bacteria, virus and fungal cells can be analysed. Doctors say it pretty much can replace a lot of functions of huge machines that are a current standard.

The new device itself is a tiny 3D-printed microscope, which connects to the camera of a smartphone. It can even run from the smartphone battery, making it more portable. The main advantage is that it can be easily put into good use in poorer parts of the world as well, because it should cost much less than $500 and is small enough to make shipping quite problem-free. This microscope is a very important invention in the light of the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotics still are very effective at treating bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis. However, many strains of various bacteria species are becoming resistant to our treatments largely because of overuse of antibiotics. It means that soon we will have to come up with new drugs, but at the meantime more accurate choice of antibiotics is needed. This is why scientists want to give laboratories around the world a chance to actually look into strains of DNA in order to find out if a bacterium is sensitive to a certain type of antibiotics. Mats Nilsson from Stockholm and Uppsala University said: “To me, the idea to use a smartphone for this was very interesting. This opens the way to many new and very important fields of application”.

There are still quite a few steps to take. Researchers have to find a company to manufacture these microscopes and then see how the world can benefit from them as soon as possible.

Source:  su.se

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