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Game on! UCLA researchers use online crowd-sourcing to diagnose malaria
Date:5/3/2012

combining human and machine resources toward efficient, accurate and remote diagnosis of malaria.

"The most exciting aspect is that this is an entirely novel approach in the area of visual diagnostics, which really challenges diagnostic algorithms used to date," said Karin Nielsen, a professor of infectious diseases in the department of pediatrics at the Geffen School of Medicine. "It is diagnostics outside the box that is, the study introduces an entirely new concept in diagnostics with the use of games for this purpose. The potential applications of this new approach are immense."

How the game works:

Before playing the game, each player is given a brief online tutorial and an explanation of what malaria-infected red blood cells typically look like using sample images. After completing a short training phase, players go through the actual game, in which they are presented with multiple frames of red blood cell images and can use a "syringe" tool to "kill" the infected cells one-by-one and use a "collect-all" tool to designate the remaining cells in the frame as "healthy."

Within each frame, there are a certain number of cells whose status (i.e., infected or not) is known by the game but not by the players. These control cell images allow Ozcan's team to dynamically estimate the performance of gamers as they go through each frame and also helps the team assign a score for every frame the gamer passes through.

"I believe that, similar to other very innovative ideas, one of the major challenges will be the skepticism of traditional microscopists, pathologists and clinical laboratory personnel, not to mention malaria experts, who will initially view with suspicion a gaming approach in malaria diagnostics," said Nielsen, also an author of the study. "It is a very revolutionary proposal and it might take a few clinical studies in the field to document the efficacy of this platform in order to convince traditional
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Contact: Wileen Wong Kromhout
wwkromhout@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0540
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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