A Paper Microscope That Costs Only 50 cents Can Detect Malaria From Just a Drop of Blood – And It Could Revolutionize Medicine

Thursday, July 30, 2015

For a whole lot of people, especially those in developing countries, science – and with it, medicine – isn’t readily available to the majority of citizens. But Manu Prakash wants to change that.

Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford, is the proprietor of “frugal science,” a term he coined to explain the movement toward building cheap versions of high tech tools. His endeavor aims to make medical devices both affordable and available to the masses.

The way Prakash sees it, labs don’t need the most expensive equipment out there in order to reach profound breakthroughs. “Today people look at these extraordinary labs and forget that in the 1800s they could still do the exact same science,” he told The New York Times.

So in 2014 he created a paper microscope, aptly named the Foldscope, that costs only 50 cents to produce.

Though microscopes might seem like a mundane piece of equipment, they remain an integral part of detecting disease and analyzing blood samples. Yet despite their necessity, they’re expensive. A quality microscope can cost hundreds of dollars, plus even more to keep it maintained.

For labs in developing countries, these costs often lie outside their meager budgets. Even for labs that can afford the luxury of a high-powered microscope, properly trained technicians come at a steep price as well.

Source: Business Insider (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
Base of the Pyramid, infectious diseases