(photo credit: )
The British Journal of Cancer has just recognized the potential of the
“electronic nose” – developed by Dr. Hossam Haick and publicized in
recent years – for detecting at an early stage four types of cancer: lung,
breast, prostate and colon.
The cancer-sniffing device was invented by
the researcher at the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute in the
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s Faculty of Chemical
Clinical trials have already shown that the device detects
cancer, including its type and location, with a 92 percent success rate and can
distinguish between cancer patients and healthy people.
known for some time now that dogs are capable of detecting cancer in earlier
stages by sniffing the patient’s breath. The animals are able to identify
molecules created by a tumor that circulate through patient’s blood to the
lungs, and leave the body when the patient exhales.
The “artificial nose”
was developed based on this knowledge, and the final product – now integrating a
single nanometric sensor – is very close to a dog’s olfactory
Research has passed the experimental stage of clinical trials,
which showed that the nose could not only differentiate between healthy and sick
people, but could also identify the type of tumor the patient had. The four
cancers are responsible for half of all the world’s fatal tumors.
of 177 volunteers aged 20 to 75, some healthy and some with cancer, were tested
by breathing onto the nanosensor. The data, processed using advanced
mathematical algorithms, showed that the device was very accurate in
differentiating between healthy and sick people and among the types of
The journal article, written by Haick and Prof. Abraham Kuten,
head of the oncology department at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa,
sensors could detect minute amounts of chemicals in the tumors.
added that the device could not only detect the tumors early but be used
monitor improvement in patients’ condition as they undergo treatment for
“It could save the lives of thousands of people around the world
every year,’ they maintained in the journal.
Haick, who is only 35,
recently led of group of scientists from eight universities and
Europe that received from the European Union a grant worth €5.4 million
development of nanometric sensors.
This, he believes, will leaded to the
development of a mobile, cheap but sophisticated device that can help
diagnose cancer at an early stage.