Automatic preparation of blood smears for a reliable diagnosis of malaria


Researchers at the universities of Cambridge and Bath in the United Kingdom, along with colleagues at the Ifakara Institute of Health in Tanzania, have created two devices, called autohem, that help create blood smears, a common technique for diagnosing malaria. A blood smear involves manually staining a drop of blood through a microscope slide to allow detailed blood observation and diagnosis. Although it seems simple, it requires dexterity and skill to function properly, and these newer devices are designed to streamline the process and allow health workers in low-income areas to reproduce high-quality smears consistently.

Malaria claims more than 400,000 lives each year, and sound diagnostic and treatment services are the cornerstone of an effective public health response. However, many of the world’s predominant regions of malaria are often remote and under-resourced, creating challenges to provide adequate levels of care. One of the problems lies in a common diagnostic test for malaria: blood smears.

“Creating blood smears is a laborious, repetitive task that requires an expert level of skill and manual dexterity,” said Samuel McDermott, a researcher involved in the development of new technology. “By using automated blood smear machines, such as autohaem devices, technicians will be able to increase their performance while maintaining a high enough quality for diagnosis.”

Not all blood smears are created equal, many of them are of poor quality and make accurate diagnosis difficult. “In some countries, up to 81.5% of blood smears are prepared incorrectly,” McDermott said. “If a blood smear is prepared incorrectly, when examined under a microscope, the technician will struggle to make a correct diagnosis. Because these smears are often done in a rural clinic and sent to a regional facility for examination. yes, any smear problems could cause days of delay “.

The autohemes smear device is manually operated, while the autohemes smear + is automated and uses a motorized smear mechanism. To date, researchers have shown that technicians with limited experience were able to create high-quality smears in a way that was easily reproducible when using the devices.

Because the devices are intended to be used in low-resource regions, the researchers made an effort to keep them as low as possible and used inexpensive components, many of which are readily available or printed in 3D. The attached software and hardware design is open source.

Study a Review of scientific instruments: autohaem: 3D printed devices for automated preparation of blood smears

Via: American Institute of Physics

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