What is LUCAS?
A miniaturized microscope that attaches to a cell phone allows for the detection of parasites and bacteria in blood and water in remote locations.
Diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, which are caused by bacteria or parasites can be detected with a microscope. Unfortunately, traditional microscopes are large, expensive and delicate, which means disease detection requires samples to be sent to a central lab.
LUCAS is a miniaturized microscope weighing less then 1.5 ounces that eliminates traditional lenses and instead uses a computer to identify the shadows of bacteria or cells in a sample of liquid. The shadows, forming the fingerprint of a cell type, are sent through the microscope’s attached cell phone to a computer, which processes and displays the cell’s magnified image allowing a user to identify any present bacteria.
“The advantage of this approach is you can work with any bodily fluid or water sample in the field and all you need is a simple cell phone and a microscope that attaches to it. You can send the information anywhere you want in the world.” – Dr. Aydogan Ozcan, Professor of Electrical Engineering at UCLA and the California Nanosystems Institute
The ability to detect and diagnose disease in the field will significantly increase the ability of healthcare workers to treat patients quickly. By 2015, about 90 percent of the world’s population will carry a cell phone subscribed to a network – making LUCAS and mobile laboratories available to the majority of the developing world.
“In the short term this is going to create a telemedicine tool that will increase healthcare delivery quality in the developing world. At the same time, this will also have an impact for developed countries. We will have point-of-care offices that will quickly screen for disease, reduce the burden on hospitals, localize healthcare, and increase its quality.” – Dr. Aydogan Ozcan, Professor of Electrical Engineering at UCLA and the California Nanosystems Institute