If that dusty box of old electronics hasn’t hit the curb or been dropped off at the local thrift shop yet, you may want to rescue your old DVD player — it could soon be resurrected as an inexpensive laser scanning microscope able to analyze blood and perform cellular imaging.
Researchers at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm have successfully converted a commercial DVD drive into a laser scanning microscope that can analyze blood and perform cellular imaging with one-micrometre resolution. ‘Upcycling‘ commercial DVD players in this way would make it possible to complete an HIV test in just a few minutes, says Aman Russom, senior lecturer at the School of Biotechnology and part of the team responsible for the breakthrough.
“With an ordinary DVD player, we have created a cheap analytical tool for DNA, RNA, proteins and even entire cells.” -Aman Russom, School of Biotechnology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology
In a demonstration researchers were able to successfully collect and visualize CD4 cells using a modified DVD reader. As it relates to HIV, a low count of CD4 cells would be an indicator of the disease.
This “Lab-on-DVD” technology could provide an alternative to laser-based flow cytometry units which are the standard within hospitals and often cost upwards of $30,000 USD. Portable Lab-on-DVD systems could be offered in developing countries for less than $200 USD and would also require less training to operate.
As amazing as this breakthrough is, one can’t help but feel sorry for VHS as DVD outperforms the older format yet again, this time in the modification department.