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Super-Cheap Paper Microscope Could Save Millions of Lives
Imagine if clinics in developing countries were equipped with an inexpensive yet durable tool that could help medical personnel identify and diagnose a variety of deadly diseases like Malaria, Chagas disease, or Leishmaniosis? For millions of people around the world waiting to be diagnosed and treated, such a tool could be a life-saver.
Manu Prakash, a professor at Stanford University and his students have developed a microscope out of a flat sheet of paper, a watch battery, LED, and optical units that when folded together, much like origami, creates a functional instrument with the resolution of 800 nanometers â€“ basically magnifying an object up to 2,000 times....
Penned, most doctors wouldn't know what to do with a scope if they had one. The situation you describe is simply a matter of a doctor ordering the wrong test in an effort to save money. Most bacterial cultures will report out any and all pathogens that are found. It is only when a doctor says to screen for a particular bug that we only look for that particular bug, for example, an MRSA screen. Scopes are surprisingly limited in their usefuleness. In the case of bacteria, a scope can take one of millions of different kinds of bacteria and put it into one of four basic categories. It will not tell you what the bacteria is, what treatments are effective against it, or if it is even something to be concerned about.
thing is, American doctors don't have these either and should. then they could become scientists again. I've heard people who work on testing say they are only allowed to give info to the patient on what is being requested and paid for by insurance, so they are asked to test for bacteria a, and they might find all sorts of other things, but all the patient gets back is "no, you don't have bacteria a". putting microscopes back in the hands of the doctor would be a huge step to taking out the various litanies of "middle men" who steer health care back to the one who should be refining their medical skills and building a relationship with the patient.
Christopher, that is really neat that you had one!
I bought one off of Ebay years ago. Top of the line and medical grade. Think I got it for $200, compare to &1500. If you can ever swing it, really fascinating piece of equipment to have. I forget the magnification eyepieces it has, but you use a drop of oil to increase it even more. Pretty neat stuff.