14 Jul '22
Biologists and medical specialists at the Kazan Federal University (KFU) in the Russian region of Tatarstan have developed an original method of identifying microplastic particles inside living cells and organisms.
Plastic waste grows daily across the planet; impacted by a variety of environmental factors, it decomposes very slowly down to micro- and nanodimensional particles. The particles can be found everywhere, including living bodies.
“To research into the way microplastic affects human and animal organisms, we must learn to detect it first. Our goal is to find out how easy or fast this or that type of plastic particles can penetrate a living body, where they accumulate, and how to tell one kind of plastic in the body from another,” said Gulnur Fakhrullina who heads this research effort at KFU.
The KFU detection method is based on images obtained with the help of a special research technique called dark-field microscopy. Artificial intelligence is used to understand what the images reveal.
According to Ms. Fakhrullina, in their experiments the scientists uploaded data obtained to a residual neural network (ResNet) model for learning and testing. “The neural network enabled us to determine the class of particles with high enough accuracy comparable to that of a spectral characteristics identification method,” the KFU biologist added.