Breathalyzer-Like Device to Detect Lung Cancer

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Breath Diagnosis 

A team of researchers from Israel, U.S.A and Britain have developed a breathalyzer like device which can detect lung cancer by analysing the breath of a person. The device was tested on 358 patients who were either at the risk of or were diagnosed with lung cancer.

The team comprised researchers from the University of Colorado, Tel Aviv University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Lung cancer is a deadly disease with high death rates not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world. The high-death rate is a result of poor detection of lung cancer, as it quietly affects victims and metastasizes uncontrollably. The current prevailing technique requires invasive procedures such as bronchoscopies, computer guided biopsies or surgery. The new device on the other hand comes with a nanotech “NaNose” chip that ‘sniffs’ out cancerous tumours. The device combines several novel technologies and uses exhaled air to diagnose cancer.

Lung cancer produces chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that has discernible scent profile. The device detects the signature of VOCs by analysing the breath of a patient. It detected lung cancer with 90 percent accuracy even when the nodule was tiny and hard to sample. The device developed by Hossam Haick, professor at Technion and a leader in nanotechnology can detect cancer in a matter of minutes. He wants the device to be small, portable, inexpensive and sophisticated enough to be able to pinpoint a tumour’s location. It not only distinguished between healthy and affected people but also indicated the stage of cancer. The device also differentiated between malignant and benign lung lesions. 

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