AI-enabled microscopic blood analysis for microfluidic COVID-19 haematology

Microscopic blood cell analysis is an important methodology for medical diagnosis, and complete blood cell counts (CBCs) are one of the routine tests operated in hospitals. Results of the CBCs include amounts of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a unit blood sample. It is possible to diagnose diseases such as anemia when the numbers or shapes of red blood cells become abnormal. The percentage of white blood cells is one of the important indicators of many severe illnesses such as infection and cancer. The amounts of platelets are decreased when the patient suffers hemophilia. Doctors often use these as criteria to monitor the general health conditions and recovery stages of the patients in the hospital. However, many hospitals are relying on expensive hematology analyzers to perform these tests, and these procedures are often time consuming. There is a huge demand for an automated, fast and easily used CBCs method in order to avoid redundant procedures and minimize patients’ burden on costs of healthcare. In this research, we investigate a new CBC detection method by using deep neural networks, and discuss state of the art machine learning methods in order to meet the medical usage requirements. The approach we applied in this work is based on YOLOv3 algorithm, and our experimental results show the applied deep learning algorithms have a great potential for CBCs tests, promising for deployment of deep learning methods into microfluidic point-of-care medical devices. As a case of study, we applied our blood cell detector to the blood samples of COVID-19 patients, where blood cell clots are a typical symptom of COVID-19.