An electronic nose for detecting cancer and other odor-related diseases

There are several illnesses of unique “smells” that can be felt from a person’s exhaled breath. There are odors caused by such volatile organic compounds that in the case of an infection, are released by the tissue of the diseased organ or the pathogen itself.

Since these odors can grow well before the actual clinical signs, learning how to recognise them is crucial. It is also equally necessary to know how to identify them in a method that may prove to be of great benefit, or a specially created unit. In this respect, some scientists are attempting to build an electronic nose” that enables this aim to be accomplished.

The development of the electronic nose is being tackled by a team of researchers from the Fraunhofer Project Hub for Microelectronic and Optical Systems for Biomedicine MEOS . Scientists rely on the fact that in the shape of odors, the air we exhale provides a great deal of knowledge . Knowledge that can be very effective in diagnosing such illnesses such as cancer or respiratory diseases, maybe even COVID-19 itself for example.

True biomarkers may be the odors released during exhalation . This is since a single pathology is always typical of the mixture of multiple trace gases. This is what a VOC fingerprint or VOC template is called in medicine . The researchers really want to use this approach to ensure that they can detect cancer, especially lung cancer, with their electronic nose”. As well until it presents itself clinically, the hope is to be able to recognise the disorder.

As it is not invasive, the promise of this technology is immense, but it is very sensitive and selective. Plus, it is very inexpensive and compact, but to be able to use it it is not important to go to a doctor’s office.