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Electronic Nose Can Sniff Out Kidney Diseases and Lung Cancer

by Lynn Shapiro, Writer | August 11, 2009

"We will conclude the first phase of this study and analyze the data within the next few months," Dr. Haick and Prof. Abassi say. "Hopefully, we will be able to diagnose CRF at its earliest stages, allowing early therapeutic intervention that will delay the progression of the disease toward end stage renal failure, which requires dialysis or kidney transplantation, thus saving these patients physical and mental suffering, besides reducing the economic burden on the health system."

Acute Renal Failure

In addition, they say their team is currently in the midst of a large experimental study examining whether the electronic nose can also detect acute renal failure (ARF), a clinical syndrome with serious short-term and long-term consequences, caused by several etiologies and which affects 5 percent of hospitalized patients and 30 percent of patients in intensive care units.

"It should be emphasized that like chronic renal failure, the diagnosis of ARF is frequently delayed," the researchers say. "Potentially effective preventive and therapeutic measures are available, but frequently delayed due to lack of early diagnostic tools. Therefore, the electronic nose constitutes a novel technology providing early, non-invasive, tools for the prediction and detection of ARF."

When asked where they will conduct clinical trials, they say that usually inventors seek approval for the use of medical devices in the largest markets, namely, the U.S. first and Europe second.

"If the electronic nose is approved for use in the States, we do not see any problem receiving such approval in Israel and other parts of the world," the researchers tell DOTmed.

Cancer Detection Study

The collaboration between Prof. Abassi and Dr. Haick began two years ago, after Prof. Abassi from Rambam Medical Center and Faculty of Medicine in the Technion read about Dr. Haick's novel breakthrough discovery of the electronic nose, and also about his detection of various types of cancer through analyzing breath collected from oncology patients.

As a clinical researcher who has worked for more than 23 years on renal diseases and hypertension, Prof. Abassi remembered that a fishy smell and waste retention are clinical characteristics of patients with advanced chronic renal failure.

Prof. Abassi, along with Prof. Nakhoul, a nephrologist at Rambam Medical Center, approached Dr. Haick, the inventor of the electronic nose, for possible collaboration. Since then, the three researchers have been working together, testing the feasibility of using this medical device for the discovery of kidney dysfunction.