A science team have developed an alternative to the needle-prick blood test. The new technology involves simply shining a special light at the skin and could be good news for the needle phobic.
A science group, led by Lior Golan, of the biomedical engineering department at the Israel Institute of Technology, has developed an alternative blood test. Golan is quoted in the Declan Herald as saying “We have invented a new optical microscope that can see individual blood cells as they flow inside our body.”
According to a research briefing, the new technique uses a special microscope and a method called spectrally encoded confocal microscopy (SECM). The technique works by creating images by splitting a light beam into its constituent colors. In a trial, the scientists were able to create an image of blood flowing through a vessel in the lower lip of a volunteer. From this, they were able to measure successfully the diameter of the red and white blood cells and work out the numbers of different cell types.
To scan blood cells in motion, a probe is pressed against the skin of a patient and the rainbow-like line of light is directed across a blood vessel near the surface of the skin. As blood cells cross the line they scatter light, which is collected and analyzed
The portable device also has an advantage in it can be used by doctors in rural areas without easy access to medical labs.
The research findings have been published in the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express.
The reference for the paper is:
Lior Golan et al. Noninvasive imaging of flowing blood cells using label-free spectrally encoded flow cytometry. Biomedical Optics Express, 2012; 3 (6): 1455