Recently, the research group of P. Ferraro and co-workers at Isasi-Cnr (Naples) developed a “pocket holographic microscope” that enables the high-throughput screening of fluid samples. This is attained embedding micro-optics directly onto the so-called Lab on a Chip device, a pocket plastic slide made of microchannels where liquid samples can be let flow and analyzed. Thanks to the holographic imaging sensor, the pocket microscope can provide 3D quantitative information of large liquid volumes, permitting accurate analysis of biological fluids like blood, urine, and saliva.
Similarly to a glycemia test, it is sufficient to take a few drops of liquid, e.g. a blood sample, from the patient and to put them inside the chip to obtain the medical diagnosis.
The portable and cheap configuration allows for the first time to overcome the limits of the lab. In future, such systems will provide people with self-assessment diagnostic devices, e.g. avoiding to elderly people to leave home to go to the analysis centre. Home diagnostic tests will be possible in absence of healthcare professionals.
Moreover, the pocket holographic microscope will be particularly useful in developing countries, where complex analysis will be made possible in absence of adequate facilities and skilled personnel. Anemia, Malaria, and HIV are just a few examples of detectable diseases. The chip will be also employable for the detection of Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) in blood for the early diagnosis of tumors. In the non medical field, water quality assessment will be possible through the detection of waterborne pathogens
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