The portable optical diagnostics system (PODS) prototype developed by USC Viterbi engineers Andrea Armani, Samantha McBirney, Dongyu Chen, and Alexis Scholtz, detects a byproduct generated by all species of the malaria parasite. As such, it is a rapid screening for all malaria strains.
The PODS instrument was designed to solve the challenges limiting current systems. To minimize size, weight, and power requirements without sacrificing performance, every aspect was considered. The current prototype weighs fewer than 10 pounds, is 12 by 10 inches (the size of a large shoebox) and can be powered by a battery for eight hours. In addition, PODS was designed to require minimal sample processing and handling, as well as eliminate the need for secondary chemicals with strict storage requirements. This makes the device particularly suited to low-resource environments.
The end result: The current prototype developed by USC researchers can analyze an unprocessed, whole blood sample in 10-15 minutes. With only 500 μL of blood (five to seven drops), it can achieve sensitivity levels needed for an early-stage diagnosis.
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