AI-Powered microscope to fight malaria
Microscope designer and manufacturer Motic China Group Co., Ltd, a subsidiary of Motic (Xiamen) Electric Group Co Ltd , announced that it has partnered with the Global Good Fund, a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates to develop technologies for humanitarian impact. This new collaboration will create and distribute the EasyScan GO, a breakthrough AI-powered microscope to fight the spread of drug-resistant malaria and assist in case management. Using custom image recognition software, EasyScan GO is capable of identifying and counting malaria parasites in a blood smear in as little as 20 minutes.
"This collaboration, combining Global Good's impact invention focus with Motic's engineering, manufacturing and distribution capabilities, represents the type of innovative healthcare solution that is needed to improve health in emerging and low-income markets," said Maurizio Vecchione, Intellectual Ventures' Executive Vice President of Global Good and Research. "By distributing and commercializing an intelligent microscope, Global Good and Motic are creating a future where quality diagnosis of multiple diseases is within reach for everyone everywhere."
"Malaria is one of the hardest diseases to identify on a microscope slide," said David Bell, Director of Global Health Technologies supporting Global Good. "By putting machine learning-enabled microscopes in the hands of laboratory technicians, we can overcome two major barriers to combating the mutating parasite-improving diagnosis in case management and standardizing detection across geographies and time."
Every year, malaria kills almost half a million people, and researchers estimate nearly half the world's population is at risk of contracting it. The rapid spread of a multidrug-resistant strain in parts of Southeast Asia is a particularly alarming development detailed by researchers in a letter published recently in The Lancet.
Accurate detection of severe and drug-resistant cases requires analysis of a blood smear by a WHO-certified expert microscopist, which takes roughly 20 minutes per slide. Automating the process with an intelligent microscope can alleviate the shortfall of trained personnel in under-resourced countries.
Field tests of an early prototype of the microscope presented at the International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV) showed that the machine learning algorithm developed by Global Good is as reliable as an expert microscopist.
"Our goal in integrating Global Good's advanced software into Motic's high-quality, affordable digital slide scanner is to simplify and standardize malaria detection," said Richard Yeung, Vice President of Motic China. "Success with the most difficult-to-identify disease paves the way for the EasyScan product line to excel at almost any microscopy task and to detect other major diseases that affect developed and emerging markets alike."
The EasyScan GO is currently being trained to recognize all species of malaria and other parasites and traits commonly found on a blood film, including Chagas disease, microfilaria and sickle cell. The team will also explore its application to other sample types, such as sputum, feces and tissue, as well some forms of cancer.
Source: Motic Europe