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On the occasion of World Malaria Day, to be celebrated on 25 April 2012, Malariaspot.org, a new web-based game where players can tag malaria parasites in digitized images of blood smears, will be launched, with the aim of testing collaborative malaria tele-diagnosis techniques. MalariaSpot constitutes the first ever crowd-sourced medical image diagnosis campaign.
The Dr. Miguel Luengo-Oroz, researcher from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid of the Biomedical Image Technologies group and belonging to the International Program for attracting talent (PICATA) of the Moncloa Campus has developed the Malariaspot.org project with a team of multidisciplinary entrepreneurs, including Asier Arranz as its chief technology developer and Jacobo Gómez as lead designer.
”œThis proof”“of-concept experiment will allow us to test the feasibility of a crowd-sourced diagnostic approach, and establish a global community of citizen scientists (players) able to perform on-line malaria diagnosis”, says Dr. Luengo-Oroz.
Malaria kills half a million children under five years old each year and there are more than 200 million malaria cases per year. Currently, the standard for malaria diagnosis worldwide consists in counting the number of parasites in blood smears, manually through a microscope. This process can take more than 30 minutes and the diagnosis is dependent on the individual technicianÂ´s expertise. In addition, over time, as malaria prevalence decreases, microscopy technician skills may be redeployed elsewhere.
Identify malaria in your computer
MalariaSpot researchers consider that the increasing global connectivity-namely, through the every growing mobile phone networks-in regions with malaria makes digitalized image transfer from health centers a scalable and sustainable solution for performing routine microscopy malaria tests. Malariaspot.org can help meet the challenge of remote tele-diagnosis through a friendly application where users only have to accept the challenge and virtually ”œhunt” parasites in microscopy images.
The objective of the game is to have users tag as many images of parasites in the blood-smear as possible in one minute. While players advance in the game, they contribute to diagnosing new cases by tagging new images. ”•The game score is generated by comparing the user tags with images analyzed and diagnosed by expert technicians, highlights Asier Arranz, while specifying that in the future, images that have not yet been diagnosed by professionals can also be introduced in the game to increase the tagged database.
Microscopy in a-mobile phone
Thanks to this game researchers will learn how accurate the parasite counting ability of non-expert players is, and how artificial intelligence algorithms can combine the analysis of different players to obtain results equivalent to an expert analysis. But more importantly, researchers envision MalariaSpot as the first step to establishing a global specialized task force of remote gamers/workers able to perform on-line malaria diagnosis and potentially other diseases, both from personal computers and mobile devices. The vision is to also develop a microscopy-in-a-mobile-phone system for tele-diagnosis, allowing data transfer directly from field workers and health centers to the MalariaSpot platform for rapid diagnosis.
”œCollectively across the planet, millions of hours per day are spent playing video games ”“ mostly by young people, which makes them all digital experts. A small percentage of this time would be enough to diagnose all the malaria cases worldwide. Malariaspot is a simple experiment to explore the new and unique opportunity and contribution that collaborative gaming and social networks offer to the global health system”, concludes Dr. Luengo-Oroz.
Tag: General Affairs Source: UPM