IT was an intergalactic scanner used to diagnose patients in the Star Trek universe but Southampton scientists have taken one step further in making the “tricorder” a reality by aiming to develop a handheld diagnosis device.

Experts are developing hybrid technology to enable the device to carry out diagnosis on the same day and at the point-of-care – potentially avoiding the need to send protein samples away for chemical assessment and diagnosis.

And the first prototypes could be available for initial testing as early as next year if development work goes to plan.

Daily Echo: Southampton General Hospital, 2014

The new technology could cut treatment times at hospitals

The research is led by Dr Themis Prodomakis, a reader in nanoelectronics and EPSRC Fellow at the University of Southampton, in collaboration with researchers in the department of infection and immunity at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London and Berkshire-based Newbury Electronics.

It is hoped the new device could reduce treatment time and costs in diagnosis late-diagnosis treatments.

The work is being made possible by a £1m grant awarded by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council).

Dr Prodomakis said: “A project of this nature is the perfect illustration of how academia, manufacturing and the end user can come together to pool their knowledge and experience to make a real and valuable change.

“There is a real opportunity for this new diagnostic tool to make a tangible difference to healthcare not only in the UK but in international markets as well.”