Miller and Rice have contracted with a medical device consultant, 3rd Stone Design, to produce 20 microscopes that will be ready for field testing next month.
"The World Health Organization estimates that 1.3 million people died from tuberculosis in 2008," said Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Rice's Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering and the founding director of Rice 360. "Andy's microscope, which is portable, durable and inexpensive, could be used to diagnose tuberculosis in community or rural health centers with limited infrastructure in the developing world, promoting early detection and successful treatment of the disease."
The trial used TB smear samples from Tehran, Iran. Ahmad Bahrmand, former TB laboratory director of the Pasteur Institute of Iran, brought sputum smear samples from the infected patients when he came to work for Edward Graviss, director of the TMHRI Molecular Tuberculosis Laboratory.
Four days of blind testing of 63 smear samples, including control slides, confirmed the Global Focus microscope was every bit as capable as the lab's more sophisticated instrument in identifying positive smear specimens.
"This is hugely significant as a point-of-care tool clinicians can use for tuberculosis patients, whether they're in Asia or Africa or even in West Texas," Graviss said. "The first identification of TB is usually made with a smear, and it will be good to know that in the field instead of having to wait three or four days to get the smear to a lab.
"The idea was to compare a field-grade type microscope with what we see in a standard TB laboratory, such as what we have at Methodist," he said. "When we compared the results between the two microscopes, there was no significant differ
|Contact: David Ruth|