Now, skin-based cholestrol test

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Three young engineers from Chennai have developed a technique to detect cholesterol level from snapshots of the skin on the back of the palm.

They have created a large database of images showing varying degrees of cholesterol levels deposited in fingers.

For diagnostics, a digitised photograph of the back of the palm will be matched with the database by a software using an algorithm developed by them.

The trio developed an image-processing computer program that compares the image from a new patient with the thousands of entries in the database and matches it to a specific cholesterol reading.

“It can never be accurate like a laboratory test. But it can be used for diagnosis at home, for early indication,” N R Shankar of the Sree Sastha Institute of Engineering and Technology in Chennai told Deccan Herald.The development was reported in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics on Thursday.

The technique, devised by Shankar, A Ezhil and S Archana can only detect the total cholesterol level at the moment. They have approached the department of Science and Technology for funding, to improve the test further to detect low density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) and high density cholesterol (good cholesterol).

“The software can be downloaded in an android mobile phone, which in turn can be used for image-matching. The mobile phone camera or any other ordinary digital camera can be used for capturing the photo,” he said. This raises the possibility of this technique being used to develop an application for android-based phones.

The US FDA had recently approved one skin-based cholesterol detection test, which employs a different technique. Doctors, however, have questions on the utility of such tests.

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