The latest innovation in medical research comes from a team of researchers from the Israel Institute of Technology. The scientists say they have successfully built a machine capable of detecting multiple illnesses by analyzing only a sample of the patient’s breath. While the Na-Nose, as they call it, is not the first of its kind, the machine is capable of detecting up to 17 affections from a single whiff.
Also, by detecting serious conditions while still in the early stages, the researchers say patients suffering from various types of cancer could have better odds of surviving. So far, Na-Nose has positively identified Parkinson’s disease, multiple forms of cancer, and multiple sclerosis during preliminary testing.
However, even though Na-Nose shows promising results for use in non-invasive diagnoses, tests conducted so far have concluded that the machine has only an 86 percent success rate. Although it seems quite convincing, before it could hit the shelves and be used in medical facilities, by the end of its testing phase Na-Nose has to ramp up its success rate to 99 percent in order for the device to be used in clinical diagnoses.
The invention confirms what the Greek physician Hippocrates was stating almost 2400 years ago, more precisely that certain diseases leave a unique breathprint on the exhalations of the individuals affected.
Professor Hossam Haick, the lead author of the study, says that each disease is characterized by a composition of 13 different chemical components, hence the ”breathprint”. By analyzing each breathprint, Na-Nose is able to differentiate between different mixtures of chemical components and point to a certain condition of the individual involved.
Usually, machines of this kind are not sensitive enough to detect trace amounts of chemicals associated with specific diseases. However, professor Haick’s team used a carbon nanotube sensor and “artificially intelligent nanoarray” of gold particles in order to collect information on the disease. The data was then analyzed by a spectrometer while accounting for the patient’s gender and age at all times, as well.
So far, Na-Nose was used on roughly 1,4000 individuals since 2011. Professor Haick and his team are positive that the machine will soon be used in clinical diagnoses. Ultimately, the team of researchers believes that Na-Nose will prompt much more rapid diagnosis and an immediate start to treatment once the technology is perfected.