A team of scientists from UCLA, led by Aydogan Ozcan, describe their new online tool, called BioGames, which they hope will improve malaria diagnosis worldwide:
On April 25th, 2014, World Malaria Day, we released an online training game and educational module for malaria diagnosis, where we give each online user hundreds of images per game to assess their ability to identify malaria infected cells. At the end of each game, which can be played online here, the gamer is given not only a score based on their false positive and false negative rates, but also training feedback. Users can review the cell images they were given and study the cells they miscategorized. Transmitted by mosquitoes, malaria is a treatable infectious disease that kills more than one million people each year. Most victims are in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria is the leading cause of death for children under 5 years old.
With large databases connected to user-friendly games and web interfaces, this gaming platform could be used for better training and education of medical personnel for accurate reading of microscopic slides as well as for development of algorithms to automate digital diagnosis. This approach can be applied to other diseases besides malaria. Considering the minimal training of healthcare workers in some developing countries, this approach could be especially valuable for improving the accuracy of malaria diagnosis and measurement of parasitemia, or the presence of parasites, in the blood of infected patients.
See also the longer article on BioGames.