nanotechnology sensor can “smell” lung cancer in exhaled breath

Cancer has a smell—at least, non-small-cell carcinoma lung cancer does, and it’s one which recent nanotechnological research has rendered identifiable using the now standard research fare gold nanoparticles and in part the simple techniques of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. The good news concerns how these smells, termed “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs), can be relatively inexpensively and noninvasively detected at a primary cancer stage, marking a potentially new and more widely accessible diagnostic opportunity.

“A multidisciplinary research team at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology have now demonstrated a highly sensitive, stable, relatively inexpensive, and fast-response nine-sensor array that consists of gold nanoparticles functionalized with different organic groups that respond to various VOCs that are relevant to lung cancer.”

I expect that small-cell carcinoma—-a more aggressive lung cancer—will be found to be similarly detectable, as has chronic kidney disease (CKD) by the same research group. According to the World Health Organization, lung cancer is the leading cancer-related cause of death accounting for 7.4 million deaths globally in 2004, with significant increases in mortality anticipated:

“The number of global cancer deaths is projected to increase 45% from 2007 to 2030 (from 7.9 million to 11.5 million deaths), influenced in part by an increasing and aging global population.” —World Health Organization

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