A device that can sniff out cancer - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/12/09

A device that can sniff out cancer

Researchers in Colorado in conjunction with the Israel Institute of Technology have developed a mechanical nose they say can sniff a person's breath and determine with incredible accuracy whether that person has cancer. They say this device is accurate 92% of the time. 

In fact, it is so sensitive that it can spot even a few cancer cells before a tumor actually develops. Oncologist Dr. Nir Peled, M.D. says, "You just take this bag, you connect it to this device, just breathe in, and breathe out".  When that air is tested, even the tiniest particles of bad stuff light up like a spotlight.

A similar experiment is ongoing in Boulder.  Researchers from Colorado University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology used a laser to blast a sample of human breath.  In that experiment, tiny cancer particles lit up like a spotlight.

The cancer sniffing mechanical nose has its roots in some fascinating studies on dogs that were able to sniff out cancer. The device, developed by the Israeli team, though  is much more accurate, operating on what's called the nano-scale, tiny particles one-ten-thousandth the width of a human hair that are built into little machines that can spot those disease markers.

Experts say it may be four years before any kind of breath test for cancer is widely available to patients.

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