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The standard methods for counting and classifying blood cells for now  can be time consuming, extensive and a bit complicated. That is why researchers have been constantly looking out for a potential device to improve and/or shorten this process.

Scientists  developed a lantern-size device that can measure blood cell levels using magnetic levitation. This invention according to them can be combined with smartphones to conduct a medical test affordably and easily. The specimen is seen by the user with the help of mirrors and a LED light. The entire kit is about 6.3 x 4 x 7.9 inches or 16 x 10 x 20.5 centimetres in diameter.  Blood samples collected are laced with a chemical known as gadobutrol, which is slightly attracted to magnetic fields. These samples are then placed between two long thin magnets that is as small as a toothpick, and whatever is within it buoys up the magnetic field.

After that, cells then float into different heights within the magnetic field, depending on their density and type. This method is where the device easily separates the red and white blood cells, and this can be done in as fast as 15 minutes.

According to co-author of research Utkan Demirci, who is also a bio-engineer at Stanford University, they have developed a new method to measure cell densities accurately at a single-cell level and separate them based on their weight and magnetic forces.

Demirci  says i-LEV device they have discovered forgoes the usual lengthy, complicated and expensive process that latest devices designed to work with a smartphone currently have. Aside from their i-LEV device being a lot easier and simpler to use, the researchers noted that it could also do more. They said that the invention can also help monitor the effects of drugs on cells for research applications.

The i-LEV device is patented according to Demirci; however, he stated that it won’t be seen at the clinic any time soon. Because like most technologies, it will take years to develop it, improve it and make it into a more commercialized version to be put on the shelves.

 

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