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Ann Biomed Eng. 2014 Jan;42(1):231-40. doi: 10.1007/s10439-013-0918-z. Epub 2013 Oct 5.

Optical systems for point-of-care diagnostic instrumentation: analysis of imaging performance and cost.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 599 Taylor Road, Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA.


One of the key elements in point-of-care (POC) diagnostic test instrumentation is the optical system required for signal detection and/or imaging. Many tests which use fluorescence, absorbance, or colorimetric optical signals are under development for management of infectious diseases in resource limited settings, where the overall size and cost of the device is of critical importance. At present, high-performance lenses are expensive to fabricate and difficult to obtain commercially, presenting barriers for developers of in vitro POC tests or microscopic image-based diagnostics. We recently described a compact "hybrid" objective lens incorporating both glass and plastic optical elements, with a numerical aperture of 1.0 and field-of-view of 250 μm. This design concept may potentially enable mass-production of high-performance, low-cost optical systems which can be easily incorporated in the readout path of existing and emerging POC diagnostic assays. In this paper, we evaluate the biological imaging performance of these lens systems in three broad POC diagnostic application areas; (1) bright field microscopy of histopathology slides, (2) cytologic examination of blood smears, and (3) immunofluorescence imaging. We also break down the fabrication costs and draw comparisons with other miniature optical systems. The hybrid lenses provided images with quality comparable to conventional microscopy, enabling examination of neoplastic pathology and infectious parasites including malaria and cryptosporidium. We describe how these components can be produced at below $10 per unit in full-scale production quantities, making these systems well suited for use within POC diagnostic instrumentation.

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