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Leicester scientists deploy space-age technologies at science-fiction style 'sick bay'
Date:9/1/2011

pace, the technology might also be a first step towards ultimately developing devices akin to the 'tricorders' from Star Trek -- used by medics in the sci-fi series to diagnose illness simply by waving it near a patient, according to Professor Mark Sims, the University of Leicester space scientist who led the project alongside Tim Coats, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University and head of accident and emergency at the Royal Infirmary.

Professor Sims said: "We are replacing doctors' eyes with state-of-the-art imaging systems, replacing the nose with breath analysis, and the "feel of the pulse" with monitoring of blood flow using ultra sound technology and measurement of blood oxygen levels.

"In the old days, it used to be said that a consultant could walk down a hospital ward and smell various diseases as well as telling a patient's health by looking at them and feeling their pulse. What we are doing is a high tech version of that in order to help doctors to diagnose disease."

Many diseases have visible effects that can be measured outside the body, whether it is a change in colour, temperature, or what organic compounds we breath out or a combination of them alongside changes in the cardio-vascular system e.g. pulse rate, blood oxygenation level. The equipment, it is hoped, can be used in diagnosis of a wide range of diseases from things like sepsis through to bacterial infections such as C. Difficile and some cancers. The Diagnostics Development Unit has identified over 40 possible applications to date.

Explaining how the project came about, Professor Sims said: "We are developing a device called the Life Marker Chip for the ExoMars space mission. It will look for organic molecules in samples from below the surface of Mars, helping to answer a question that has been fascinating mankind for many years, is there Life today or was there Life in the past on that planet? Developing it has involved both space technology a
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Contact: University of Leicester Press Office
pressoffice@le.ac.uk
01-162-522-415
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert

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