Device Akin to Tricorder From “Star Trek” to Diagnose Malaria

Malaria is not much of an issue in the developed world, but it is still wreaking havoc in parts of Africa says Jaime Garcia Dias. The disease claims a few hundred thousand people a year, and most of the deaths are from this continent. Modern medical science is good at diagnosing the disease. However, it still involves drawing blood, and trained personnel using chemical reagents to get an accurate diagnosis. A new device has been invented that may make diagnosing malaria a much simpler affair, and it will also take a tiny fraction of the current 15 to 20 minutes.

The tricorder from Star Trek is the holy grail of medical diagnostic equipment. A character in the show points it at someone and they have their vital signs and any health anomalies at their fingertips practically instantly. There is now a laser scan device that, together with an oscilloscope placed on the skin, can give an accurate malaria diagnosis in about 20 seconds without drawing any blood or breaking the skin at all. The device stands to revolutionize diagnosis of this disease because not only is it fast and require less trained personnel than conventional tests but it should also have a per diagnosis cost of about 8 cents, which is incredibly cheap. This is especially important in a continent as poor as Africa. Further testing is needed to perfect the machine, but it will hopefully be diagnosing this deadly disease and helping to eradicate it from the world very soon.

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