Upstarts: A Better Blood Test?

Winter 2018

Blood cells

Lensless microchip sensors can resolve images down to the level of a molecule or less. The trick to making them useful for hematological applications is to readily detect and report on what’s contained in a few drops of blood.

René Vidal, a professor in the Johns Hopkins Department of Biomedical Engineering who directs the Vision Dynamics and Learning Lab, is working with Robert Bollinger, a professor in the School of Medicine, to spearhead an effort to, in essence, teach these specialized testing devices to do just this.

The researchers are working with Belgium research institute Imec, which is responsible for the microchip-sized sensors, as part of a joint project funded by a company called miDIAGNOSTICS. Vidal works through the heavy computational issues that are critical to the automatic analysis of images captured by the device. The way that the sensors will eventually “see” what’s in the blood samples is similar to a process that the human brain employs to detect patterns.