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American Chemical Society podcast: Improving disease monitoring in remote locations

The latest episode in the American Chemical Society's (ACS') award-winning Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions podcast series features an advance in smartphone-based imaging that could help physicians in resource-limited locations monitor their patients' health. The development converts smartphones into powerful mini-microscopes that, for the first time, can detect individual viruses.

Based on a report by Aydogan Ozcan, Ph.D., in the journal ACS Nano, the new podcast is available without charge at iTunes and from

Ozcan notes that conventional imaging techniques for detecting disease-causing bacteria and viruses rely on expensive microscopes with multiple lenses and other bulky components. In places with limited resources, doctors have few options for determining how well a treatment is working. To address this disadvantage, researchers have developed compact microscopes that can be fitted onto smartphones to detect microbes or to check patients' eyesight. Ozcan's team set out to build on these advances and produce a more refined imaging device that can count the number of bacteria or viruses in a sample.

The result is a portable imaging system that harnesses the digital power of today's smartphones to detect individual viruses and determine viral load the severity of infection. This measure can indicate the effectiveness of a treatment. The scientists conclude that the microscope "holds significant promise for various point-of-care applications such as viral load measurements or other biomedical tests conducted in remote or resource-limited environments."

Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions is a series of podcasts describing some of the 21st century's most daunting problems, and how cutting-edge research in chemistry matters in the quest for solutions. Global Challenges is the centerpiece in an alliance on sustainability between ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry. Global Challenges is a sweeping panorama of global challenges that includes dilemmas such as providing a hungry and thirsty world with ample supplies of safe food and clean water, developing alternatives to petroleum to fuel society, preserving the environment and ensuring a sustainable future for our children and improving human health.


Contact: Christine Suh
American Chemical Society

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