Is it a plot from an upcoming sequel of Star Trek or is it real life?
As futuristic it may sound it is the truth that scientists now have invented a device that can detect as many as 17 diseases even 8 different types of cancer, just from your breath. Isn’t it incredible? Of course it is.
The Na-Nose device can spot chemical signatures of the diseases from your breath and it is hoped that this device will help in detecting dangerous diseases early.
The device has been invented by international team of scientists and researchers from 5 different countries. The team is led by Professor Hassam Haick who belongs to the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. They are now planning ‘Sniffphone’ which will allow users to detect diseases right through your smartphone.
The invention of the Na-Nose device has been possible because people exhale around 100 different chemicals which are known as volatile organic compounds and the team also found out that every diseases has its own chemical signature within a person’s volatile organic compounds. The scientists also discovered that each disease has its own ‘breathprint’.
“We found that just as we each have a unique fingerprint, each of the diseases we studied has an unique breath print, a ‘signature’ of chemical components,” said Professor Haick. “We have a device which can discriminate between them, which is elegant and affordable.”
Professor Haick also added, “Breath is an excellent raw material for diagnosis,” Professor Haick told Haaretz. “It is available without the need for invasive and unpleasant procedures, it’s not dangerous, and you can sample it again and again if necessary.”
Besides cancers, the conditions the device can diagnose include Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis. Crohn’s disease and kidney disease.
Haick also explained that how the device is working. He said, “We can teach the system that a breathprint could be associated with a particular disease,” said Haick. “It works in the same way we’d use dogs in order to detect specific compounds. We bring something to the nose of a dog, and the dog will transfer that chemical mixture to an electrical signature and provide it to the brain, and then memorize it in specific regions of the brain. This is exactly what we do. We let it smell a given disease but instead of a nose we use chemical sensors, and instead of the brain we use the algorithms. Then in the future, it can recognize the disease as a dog might recognize a scent.”
Feel free to read the study here, in the American Chemical Society Nano journal.