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Electronic Nose Can Sniff Out Kidney Diseases and Lung Cancer

by Lynn Shapiro, Writer | August 11, 2009

Lung Cancer Tests in the Offing

Using an array of sensors made from gold nanoparticles, Dr. Haick and his team have also developed an "electronic nose" able to distinguish the breath of lung cancer patients from those without the disease. The research results, which will be published in the Nanotechnology section of Nature Magazine very soon, the researchers tell DOTmed, could lead to a rapid and non-invasive way of diagnosing and screening for lung cancer.

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The test population for the study was composed of 40 patients with primary stage-3 and stage-4 lung cancer, clinically diagnosed by conventional methods. None had received chemotherapy or other cancer treatments prior to breath testing.

Fifty-six healthy control participants were chosen to match the lung cancer study group in age and lifestyle. Exhaled breath was collected from study participants in a controlled fashion to avoid errors that could arise from not being able to distinguish endogenous compounds (generated by processes in the body, and which provide insight about the body's functions) and exogenous ones (which can be absorbed via inhalation, or through the blood and skin).

Using a process known as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) studies, the research team identified nine uncommon organic compounds that are biomarkers for lung cancer in the breath samples. They found that these compounds appeared in at least 83 percent of the lung cancer patients, but not in the majority of healthy subjects.

Experiments with a wider population of volunteers to thoroughly probe the influence of diet, alcoholism, diabetes, and metabolic and genetic states are underway. The researchers say the technology could also be used to diagnose other diseases, leading to cost reductions and enhanced possibilities to save lives.

Source: The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

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