According to the World Health Organization approximately 216 million cases of malaria occur in the world and the disease kills about 655,000 people. Malaria is a treatable infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver, and then infect red blood cells.
Currently, “the gold standard” for malaria diagnosis worldwide consists of first detecting parasites and then counting the number of parasites in blood smears, manually through a microscope- usually the more the parasites more severe is the infection. An average of 100 images has to be visually checked by a specialist; a process that can take up to 30 minutes. Confirmation of a negative diagnosis is ultimately dependent on the technician’s expertise.
Thus, we need scalable, fast, ubiquitous and accurate screening systems (a priority in the agenda for malaria eradication). Mobile phone coverage is reaching every corner of the planet and we see the global connectivity as an opportunity to distribute the images all over the internet. This is where you come in. We believe that there is so much on-line talent out there that can be used to analyze malaria images (while you play a game!). We have already developed 3 games to test this concept: MalariaSpot, TuberSpot and MalariaSpot Bubbles. We have published the results from MalariaSpot data, we are working on the TuberSpot publication and we have just started collecting data from MalariaSpot Bubbles.