50 Cent Paper Microscope Could Revolutionize Medicine


By Emmie Martin | Business Insider Australia


For a whole lot of people, especially those in developing countries, science — and with it, medicine — isn’t readily available to the majority of citizens. But Manu Prakash wants to change that.

Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford, is the proprietor of “frugal science,” a term he coined to explain the movement toward building cheap versions of high tech tools. His endeavour aims to make medical devices both affordable and available to the masses.

The way Prakash sees it, labs don’t need the most expensive equipment out there in order to reach profound breakthroughs. “Today people look at these extraordinary labs and forget that in the 1800s they could still do the exact same science,” he told The New York Times.

So in 2014 he created a paper microscope, aptly named the Foldscope, that costs only 50 cents to produce.

Though microscopes might seem like a mundane piece of equipment, they remain an integral part of detecting disease and analysing blood samples. Yet despite their necessity, they’re expensive. A quality microscope can cost hundreds of dollars, plus even more to keep it maintained.

For labs in developing countries, these costs often lie outside their meager budgets. Even for labs that can afford the luxury of a high-powered microscope, properly trained technicians come at a steep price as well.

Prakash’s Foldscope is made almost entirely of paper. It’s colour-coded and perforated to guide users in construction, but features no written instructions, making it universally understandable. All of the microscope’s non-paper parts, such as its lens and battery, are built in to the sheet, keeping assembly as simple as possible.

The higher resolution version of the microscope magnifies up to 2,100 times and costs around $US1, while the lower resolution costs around 50 cents. The entire microscope is small enough to fit in a pocket, nearly weightless, and incredibly sturdy — it can be dropped, stomped on, or doused in water and will still work.

Practically, the Foldscope can help doctors correctly diagnose deadly diseases such as malaria, schistosomiasis, and African sleeping sickness. In a TED Talk, Prakash explains that identifying these infections is as simple as adding dye to a single drop of blood. With cheap, easy-to-use microscopes, any lab technician can learn to detect malaria, potentially revolutionising healthcare in areas where these diseases run rampant.

While the generic Foldscope serves as a one-size-fits-all microscope, Prakash and his team have also developed specialised versions, such as a malaria-centric one, that make identifying diseases even easier.

[Read more here]

Originally entitled: “A paper microscope that costs only 50 cents can detect malaria from just a drop of blood — and it could revolutionise medicine”

Robert O'Leary 150x150Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England & “virtually” the world, with his website, www.romayasoundhealthandbeauty.com. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealth andbeauty@gmail.com.

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