Dr. McCoy--nicknamed "Bones" in Star Trek--used a handheld scanner to diagnose patient's instantly. We are not quite there yet, but one step along that path was made recently by researchers who performed over 1000 medical tests simultaneously using a microfluidic lab-on-a-chip. Look for handheld medical diagnostic devices using labs-on-a-chip within the decade. R.C.J.
Microfluidic lab-on-a-chip technology has enabled researchers to conduct over 1,000 tests simultaneously. Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles claim their lab-on-a-chip is the first to perform 1,024 parallel operations, thereby completing tests in hours rather than days or weeks. A microfluidic lab-on-a-chip etches tiny channels (for storing, mixing and testing chemical compounds) on a chip. The technology uses equipment originally designed for semiconductor fabrication, but has been repurposed for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Other efforts are underway to commercialize microfluidic MEMS chips, but UCLA claims to be the first to demonstrate more than 1,000 chemical reactions at once on a stamp-sized, computer-controlled microchip.