Miniaturization has opened the door to innovative medical equipment that enables advances such as onsite, immediate evaluation of environmental risks and patient sample analysis outside the lab. French research institute CEA-Leti’s lens-free microscope for diagnosing spinal meningitis at a fraction of the cost of bulky existing systems is the latest breakthrough in this field.
The microscope, which will be demonstrated at CES 2020 in Las Vegas from Jan. 7-10, can be operated by healthcare professionals at the patient’s bedside. It provides immediate results and accurate counting of white blood cells (leukocytes) in cerebrospinal fluid, which is required to diagnose spinal meningitis, an acute inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
The technology costs about one-tenth as much as an optical microscope and can image up to 10,000 microscopic biological objects at a time. Protected by 25 patents, the microscope has neither lenses nor moving parts, and analytical results are available in about one minute.
The system operates with a near-infrared light emitted by an LED that is diffracted by the biological sample being analyzed to generate a holographic pattern captured by a CMOS image sensor. Holographic reconstruction algorithms digitally recreate the image of the object on a display. Artificial intelligence software then detects, analyzes and classifies biological objects by tracking metrics of interest.