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Published on 1 September 2009

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Portable sensor detects lung cancer


Lung cancer could soon be detected on the breath of suspected patients with a sensor.

Scientists have developed a portable breath-test sensor which can detect lung cancer molecules on the breath.

Israeli researchers compared the breath samples of 40 persons diagnosed with lung cancer with those of 56 healthy persons. They identified 42 “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs) – lung cancer biomarkers – in the breath of 83% of cancer patients but fewer than 83% of healthy volunteers.

Four of the most reliable biomarkers were used to make a nine-sensor array made from tiny gold particles coated with reactive chemicals sensitive to the compounds.

The sensor distinguishes between healthy and “cancerous” breaths by producing an electrical signal that generates a distinctive trace pattern when exposed to VOCs.

Tests conducted with artificial compound mixtures proved successful.

The findings are to be outlined in the journal Nature Nanotechnology by the lead scientist Dr Hossam Haick, from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

Ninety percent of the 39,000 lung cancers diagnosed in the UK are directly caused by smoking. Lung cancer also has the highest mortality among cancers.

Copyright Press Association 2009

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

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