The ability to work with extremely small volumes of material provides cachet for a number of drug discovery companies, but for diagnostics smaller is not always better.

While Cepheid's independently programmable thermal cycler and microfluidic sample preparation cartridges are small, it is more important that they are designed to handle the sample sizes required to detect molecules present at extremely low levels. This has allowed the company to create a small, portable device capable of running easy and rapid DNA probe-based tests to replace the multiple machines now used in diagnostics laboratories.