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AI-based diagnostic for faster blood tests

Israeli firm Sight Diagnostics has been developing computer imaging coupled with machine learning technology in order to accelerate blood testing. In July 2018 the company announced it is to launch a point-of-care blood diagnostics system. The company also offers Parasight, a malaria detection device that identifies, enumerates, and speciates malaria.

The new compact, desktop-sized machine termed OLO is capable of analyzing blood drops, against 19 measures, captured in single-use cartridges. The cartridges are manually loaded into the device, where the blood count is measured and digitally captured. The machine enables a medical practitioner to measure the blood count directly in their office, obviating the need for a sample being send away for laboratory testing. Results are obtained in around ten minutes. Part of the accelerated time-to-result is with reducing the the time involved in the sample dispatch process, and for the result to be sent back to the laboratory.

The technology works on image analysis. The device comes with proprietary machine vision algorithms which assess the images and identify and count different blood-cell types. Commenting on the technology, Professor Carlo Brugnara, MD, Director of the Hematology Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital said: “Having to wait a day or more for the results of basic diagnostic tests after an office visit has always been a challenge to physicians, since these results inform treatment, and physicians would prefer to place patients on the most appropriate treatment right away – during the initial visit.”

In the future, the company aims to introduce an alternative to carrying out manual microscopy on a blood smear. This type of testing currently requires medically trained personnel; with the alternative, the machine would carry out this pathology function. For this developed, the startup has raised $25 million in equity financing (Series A and B) provided by venture capital firms, according to TechCrunch. The new machine will undergo clinical trials in the U.S., with the aim of gaining U.S. FDA approval.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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