There could be a new way to test for cancer and other diseases shortly. Just by using a breath test, a new machine made in Israel can now detect cancer and 17 other diseases from compound particles found in a patient’s breath. Greek physicians of old believed our breath was a reliable indicator of a person’s health.

History of the device

Although the new device is not ready to be used for clinical tests yet, it has shown promising results so far. The scientists are working to fine-tune its accuracy so it can be widely used to verify the dreaded cancer disease, and a host of other diseases like Parkinson’s, Crohn’s disease, pulmonary hypertension, lung cancer and much more.

Some of the current methods used to test for cancer such as CBC, Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy, Breast MRI, have been found to be invasive and time-consuming and also involve too many processes. This new machine can change all that, by making life easier through early diagnosis and instant results.

This will in turn help in early treatment for diseases and save more lives in the process. Such a simple method would remove the stigma in cancer and in essence lead the world one step closer to eradicating it.

How the machine works

All that is required is a single breath test, similar to the infamous alcohol breathalyzer test, and the computer then goes to work to detect disease compounds. Equipped with an ‘artificially intelligent nanoarray’ called Na-nose, the machine uses sensors to detect different compounds in the breath sample using gold nanoparticles and a network of carbon nanotubes.  The data obtained is then analyzed with consideration to age, gender, and other factors and comes up with a comprehensive diagnosis right down to the particular ailment.

The research done

The team of researchers tested 1,400 breath samples and identified 13 chemical compounds that occur with each of the diseases. They we were then able to form a unique ‘fingerprint’ for each of the ailments. The machine then used those chemical compounds found in the breath samples for diagnosis, and it came up with the right diagnosis 86% of the time.

Although the accuracy cannot be utilized in the medical arena at the moment, the machine can still be used for quick routine tests which can identify disease at the early stages. This will then aid at the beginning of treatment.

The creator

According to the lead researcher at the Israel Institute of Technology where the machine was made, Professor Hossam Haick, “For example, in the case of lung cancer, we can increase the survival rate from 10 to 70 percent by early diagnosis. It is available without the need for invasive and unpleasant procedures; it is not dangerous, and you can sample it again and again if necessary.”

 

This machine can also be used to identify people who are at a higher risk of getting certain conditions and is a breakthrough and welcome addition to cancer research, and in our day to day fight against one of the worst diseases that humanity has to grapple with.

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