According tomedia reports, the diagnosis of asthma in children is often challenging because standard measures such as lung function testing cannot be used under a certain age. However, the new blood analysis device can provide accurate results in less than two hours.
The tool is a holographic microscope developed by scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute of Marine Biology and Cell Technology in Germany and researchers from model recognition company raytrix, an imaging technology company. The study is part of a state-funded KillAsthma project.
The user first needs to put a drop of the patient’s blood and the substance that triggers the inflammatory response in the sample white blood cells (also known as immune cells) into a microfluidic box. The loaded box is then placed in a microscope. In a microscope, integrated LED and CMOS sensors can image up to 3,000 of these units in 3D at a time.
Using artificial intelligence-based algorithms, scientists “trained” blood samples from individuals who had been diagnosed with asthma by traditional methods, and software on the computer could analyze the speed of white blood cells. This is the key to the technique – while immune cells in both healthy and asthma-patients move in response to inflammatory stimuli, the cells in asthma patients are much slower than normal.
After about 90 minutes of tracking and analyzing cell movements, the software is able to accurately determine whether a patient has asthma. But the potential use of this technology does not stop there.
Dr Daniel Rapoport, of Fraunhofer, said: “Our approach can also be used to analyse other diseases. Especially for autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and rheumatism. Diagnosing these diseases is a long and tedious process that can be rapidly accelerated through rapid, tailored tests. “