Device Can Detect 17 Diseases by Our Breath

Including Parkinson's and multiple cancers
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2016 3:41 PM CST
Device Can Detect 17 Diseases by Our Breath
Stock image   (Getty Images/narcisa)

What if detecting cancer was as easy as breathing in and out? According to a study published last week in American Chemical Society Nano, it pretty much is. Scientist Hossam Haick has been working on his "electronic nose" for years, the Outline reports, and this new study shows the impressive things it can do. According to Smithsonian Magazine, scientists used the device to sample the breaths of more than 1,400 people and found it could diagnose 17 different diseases—Parkinson's, lung cancer, kidney failure, MS, Crohn's disease, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer, just to name a few—with 86% accuracy.

Haick's device works by using artificially intelligent nanoarrays to "smell" a person's breath and identify volatile organic compounds at a molecular level. Thirteen of these compounds, in various amounts and combinations, create a unique "breathprint" for diseases. The 86% success rate is still too low for what Haick calls the Na-Nose to be used in the real world, Engadget reports. But scientists believe in a number of years it could be cheap and easy enough for people to use at home. Because of that, people who aren't even showing symptoms could be screened, leading to very early detection and more successful treatment. For example, Haick says the Na-Nose could be used to increase lung cancer survival rates from 10% to 70% just through early diagnosis. (Scientists take "huge" step toward reversing aging.)

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