E-nose smelt what lung cancer dealt

June 5, 2003
Based on technology used in the food industry to detect "off" smells, researchers have successfully used an electronic nose to "smell" tumors in patients known to have lung cancer.

University of Rome scientists have developed a device that uses eight quartz crystals coated with special materials -- different types of metallopophyrins. These bind with certain gas compounds to produce vibration frequencies different than the crystals' natural frequencies, according to a report from New Scientist magazine. Analysis of those frequencies determines the types of compounds detected and matches those to medical problems known to produce unique gas compounds in the breath of those affected. The 60-person trial, held in Rome, detected lung tumors in all 35 people awaiting surgery for removal of large lung tumors, while detecting nothing adverse in the 25 control subjects.

The test, which took only 1 min in this trial, offers a less-costly and less-complex alternative to gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, processes normally used to analyze gas mixtures. Project researchers believe that one day doctors can use an improved nose to screen high-risk groups for lung cancer as part of regular checkups. Former lung-cancer patients can use the nose at home to check against tumor recurrences.

But hurdles remain. The trial only tested subjects with very large tumors on lung surfaces, and the trial was too small to be considered an overwhelming success, said one cancer expert interviewed by the magazine. And even if researchers are successful in developing a much more sensitive nose to detect tumors at earlier stages, it still would only be able to detect lung-surface tumors. Currently, blood tests and bronchoscopies, which use an instrument to look inside patients' lungs and possibly take tissue samples, are used to positively detect lung cancer.

Sponsored Recommendations

The entire spectrum of drive technology

June 5, 2024
Read exciting stories about all aspects of maxon drive technology in our magazine.

MONITORING RELAYS — TYPES AND APPLICATIONS

May 15, 2024
Production equipment is expensive and needs to be protected against input abnormalities such as voltage, current, frequency, and phase to stay online and in operation for the ...

Solenoid Valve Mechanics: Understanding Force Balance Equations

May 13, 2024
When evaluating a solenoid valve for a particular application, it is important to ensure that the valve can both remain in state and transition between its de-energized and fully...

Solenoid Valve Basics: What They Are, What They Do, and How They Work

May 13, 2024
A solenoid valve is an electromechanical device used to control the flow of a liquid or gas. It is comprised of two features: a solenoid and a valve. The solenoid is an electric...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!