LoaScope, the latest iteration of the CellScope technology developed in the lab of Daniel Fletcher, turns the camera of a mobile device into a microscope and automatically detects and quantifies infection by parasitic worms in a drop of blood. One such parasite, Onchocerca volvulus, is endemic to Africa and can lead to blindness in infected individuals. Treatment with the drug ivermectin is complicated because co-infection by another parasitic worm, the Loa loa, can cause fatal side effects. Expanding on a successful pilot study, the LoaScope was used to analyze the blood of patients in Cameroon, enabling doctors to treat more than 15,000 people with ivermectin without serious complications. Fletcher, a faculty scientist in Biological Systems and Engineering (BSE) and chair of the UC Berkeley Department of Bioengineering, is a coauthor on the report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Read more from UC Berkeley News.
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