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UBC Science researchers predict Star Trek-style medical ‘Tricorders’ and the discovery of Earth-like planets in the January issue of UBC Reports, The Next Big Thing.

This is the fifth year that UBC Reports has asked UBC experts to identify advances that may transform the world. The 2011 edition highlights nine areas in which researchers predict groundbreaking progress.

One of those predicted advances is a handheld device that will allow doctors to analyze and identify viruses or bacteria that make us ill, and provide patients with a quick and accurate diagnosis--all during the same visit.

UBC Physics professors Andre Marziali and Lorne Whitehead, along with Boreal Genomics--a spinoff from Marziali’s lab--have developed a technology that allows DNA to be extracted from complicated samples, including dirt and tar.

Marziali and Whitehead’s team is now working to develop a device that can scan and analyze data contained in patient swabs, allowing doctors to quickly separate minute traces of virus DNA from prevalent human DNA, and provide patients with an on-the-spot diagnosis. Their medical ‘Tricorder’ will enable doctors to easily identify the needle in the DNA haystack.

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Category: Science