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Shark Science

Laser Blood Scan Could Help Identify Malaria and Other Diseases 34

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the might-sting-a-bit dept.
sciencehabit writes "Combining lasers with a principle discovered by Alexander Graham Bell over 100 years ago, researchers have developed a new way to collect high-resolution information about the shape of red blood cells. The lasers pulse every 760 nanoseconds to induce red blood cells to emit sound waves with frequencies of more than 100MHz, one of the highest frequencies ever achieved. Testing the laser on blood samples collected from a group of human volunteers, researchers showed that the high-frequency sound waves emitted by red blood cells in the blood samples revealed the tiniest details about the cells' shapes. Because diseases like malaria can alter the shape of the body's cells, the device may provide a way to accurately diagnose various blood disorders before it's too late." Abstract (actual paper is paywalled).
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Laser Blood Scan Could Help Identify Malaria and Other Diseases

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  • This is great, I wonder how it will compare to traditional methods of testing for these blood disorders, in terms of cost and time. Obviously automated means it can be faster but the people doing these tests don't always have the funds for a device like this.
    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @10:20AM (#44176957) Journal

      This is great, I wonder how it will compare to traditional methods of testing for these blood disorders, in terms of cost and time. Obviously automated means it can be faster but the people doing these tests don't always have the funds for a device like this.

      I'd imagine that the big win would be if they could get the whole system implemented in solid-state/MEMS hardware:

      At least some blood cell histology requires only relatively primitive instruments and a few not-particularly-esoteric dyes; but it does require a trained examiner and accuracy suffers if you overwork them. Some flavor of color-coded test strips(with suitably crafted antibodies or such) are probably easier to use; but rather less likely to hold up well if stored under lousy conditions for long periods/replaced by counterfeits in dodgier markets, etc.

      If this could be implemented entirely in robust electronics, the device would presumably be fairly easy to ruggedize, fairly long lasting, and pretty easy to use, as well as being a suitable basis for a much higher throughput test system for use in better equipped facilities where efficiency is important.

    • Re: Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @11:38AM (#44178065)

      Part of the diagnosis of malaria involves having a skilled operator perform exhaustive microscopy on the blood film. Having worked as a haematologist I can assure you it is fairly easy to diagnose malaria but a pain in the arse to exclude it. Any test which can improve this process is welcome.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @10:08AM (#44176801)
    I want Laser Blood.
  • The lasers pulse every 760 nanoseconds to induce red blood cells to emit sound waves with frequencies of more than 100MHz...

    If blood emits sound waves, but they can't be heard, does it make a sound?

    • In the Sun, Sun, Sun.

    • If blood emits sound waves, but they can't be heard, does it make a sound?

      Yes. The existence of sound waves is independent of an active listening agent.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        Pedanticaly, is it the vibration that is "sound" or is it the experience of the listener receiving vibrations that is "sound"? Those "sound waves", without being experienced, are simply vibrations, but is that enough to consider the entire event "making a sound"? As an audio technician, my (crappy) equipment picks up electronic noise on occasion, so it "hears sound" that isn't actually there. Similarly, can a person actually hear an auditory hallucination, which is the experience without the associated vibr

        • Yes, the vibrations are the sound. As an audio technician you know that. Your crappy equipment and the auditory hallucinations are exactly as you describe: detecting something that isn't actually there. The false signals are being *interpreted* as sound, yes, but they are not sound. Consider supersonic jets. If sound is the experience of the listener, how can a jet travel faster than that?
  • by apcullen (2504324) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @10:25AM (#44177045)
    They could roll this test into a Tricorder http://www.qualcommtricorderxprize.org/competition-details/overview [qualcommtr...xprize.org]
  • Original Article (Score:4, Informative)

    by Gumpy (29977) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @11:36AM (#44178029) Homepage

    The original article (final proof) is available at the Physics Department [ryerson.ca] of Ryerson University:

  • I can't believe no one has mentioned tricorders yet. I can't be the only person that thinks this is another step in that direction...

  • Anyone else flash on the hot wire scene from John Carpenters' The Thing?

    Be on the safe side and make sure your subject is thoroughly restrained before flipping the switch.
  • Get to the patent office before the other guy?

  • Why don't we go back to effective ways of killing the mosquitos that carry the malaria instead of finding better ways to find out that the darkies* life is going to suck.

    *Yes, that is quite racist but I feel that the liberals who basically outlawed the only method available to get rid of the mosquitos, and thus pretty much wipe out malaria, are basically racist and I am expressing how I think the liberals actually feel rather than how I feel.

    • Because other horrid disorders like sickle cell anemia affect red cell shape as well, and (as in the case of sickle cell) some can't be prevented.

      Also, try expressing your opinions without dragging politics (racial or otherwise) into it, unless you *like* having your posts modded into oblivion. The term "liberal" applies to a very wide spectrum of beliefs, just as "conservative" does, so lumping all of its members together is pretty dim -- and the clumsy way you did so makes it fairly clear that you're par

      • by kwbauer (1677400)

        Nope. The most effective method we had for killing mosquitos was outlawed because of liberals and environmentalists making crap up.

  • my family members have sickle cell and I for one wholly support anything that makes sickle cell count faster - if we could respond proactively to crisis before they have pathology this would go a LONG way towards improving quality of life and overall health.

Physician: One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well. -- Ambrose Bierce

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