The nose that can smell cancer goes commercial


Israeli professor’s revolutionary disease-detection device is on the road to changing how early, and how easily, lung cancer is diagnosed.

The nose that can smell cancer goes commercial

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- Guest Column By Israel21c  Wednesday, February 20, 2013
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An Israeli invention that can detect lung cancer from exhaled breath will be commercialized in a joint venture between the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Alpha Szenszor, a Boston-based manufacturer of carbon nanotube sensing equipment.

As ISRAEL21c reported in 2011, Technion Prof. Hossam Haick has been working on what he calls “Na-Nose” (the “na” is for “nanotechnology”) since 2007, and the device has been proven in numerous international clinical trials to differentiate between different types and classifications of cancer with up to 95 percent accuracy.

Patients breathe into a tube; the Na-Nose analyzes the more than 1,000 different gases that are contained in the breath to identify those that may indicate that something’s wrong. It works by binding gases to specific nano-materials, a technique formally known as volatile organic compound (VOC) detection.

The breakthrough is significant because there is currently no commercially available way of screening for lung cancer. Expensive and cumbersome imaging technologies (such as CT scans) are ordered only when a patient complains of symptoms, when it’s usually too late, or for a smaller group of high-risk individuals, mostly long-term smokers. And biopsies of tumors, when required, are inherently invasive.

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