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C. A Trekkie Device For The Future

Narrator: This is Science Today. A silicon wafer the size of a pentium processor chip is being used by chemists at the University of California, San Diego to take an assortment of biological tests. Chemistry professor Michael Sailor says by etching thousands of specific strands of DNA on the surface of the wafer, one can quickly detect an assortment of ailments or deficiencies through color changes.

Sailor: The vision for this was kind of like Dr. McCoy's tricorder from Star Trek. You have this little widget that he waves over the patient and it tells him that this guy's a Klingon and he ate two Tribbles last night for dinner and he's got three different diseases. That was the concept. Can we have some small package or device that can be a whole lab on a chip and can do a bunch of analyses?

Narrator: But unlike the Star Trek device, this biosensor would require an actual sample from the patient first.

Sailor: You can't just like wave this in front of a patient. If you actually want to look for AIDS or hepatitis or something, then obviously you've gotta take a sample to that. So, our chips don't have ESP unfortunately.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.