Manu Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, talks at TED conference…
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Manu Prakash_ A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami
The year is 1800. A curious little invention is being talked about. It’s called a microscope. What it allows you to do is see tiny little life forms that are invisible to the naked eye. Soon comes the medical discovery that many of these life forms are actually causes of terrible human diseases. Imagine what happened to the society when they realized that an English mom in her teacup actually was drinking a monster soup, not very far from here. This is from London.
Fast forward 200 years. We still have this monster soup around, and it’s taken hold in the developing countries around the tropical belt. Just for malaria itself, there are a million deaths a year, and more than a billion people that need to be tested because they are at risk for different species of malarial infections.
Now it’s actually very simple to put a face to many of these monsters. You take a stain, like acridine orange or a fluorescent stain or Giemsa, and a microscope, and you look at them. They all have faces. Why is that so, that Alex in Kenya, Fatima in Bangladesh, Navjot in Mumbai, and Julie and Mary in Uganda still wait months to be able to diagnose why they are sick? And that’s primarily because scalability of the diagnostics is completely out of reach. And remember that number: one billion.