Scientists at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, have created a new medical diagnostic system which might have been inspired by the labs on high tech detective shows such as CSI.

A team led by Professor Hogan Yu has demonstrated that the extremely fine resolution laser scanner used in CD and DVD drives can also be used to examine samples of saliva or blood and can detect very small amounts of various substances in the samples.

The discovery could lead to pharmacy- or even home-based instant do-it-yourself diagnosis machines. Yu says he’s not suggesting end users use his machine’s findings to diagnose themselves. Instead, he foresees a time when patients could submit samples to a conveniently-located machine and e-mail the results to their doctor, who could then prescribe treatment.

Yu says it will take years to develop a production model CD-based medical diagnosis machine. But he’s confident enough in the technology that he’s applied for a patent on it already.

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