Clinical Laboratories Could Soon Diagnose 17 Diseases with a Single Breath Analyzer Test from Israel’s Institute of Technology
The Technion breathalyzer would give pathology groups and medical laboratories unprecedented ability to support physicians in diagnosing and treating cancers, chronic diseases, and other illnesses
Assuming the cost per test was at a competitive level to existing technologies, what would give this new diagnostic system appeal to physicians and patients alike is that it would be a non-invasive way to diagnose disease. Only a sample of the patient’s breath would be needed to perform the assays.
Researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology, or Technion, published the results of their study in ACS Nano, a monthly journal of the American Chemical Society devoted to “nanoscience and nanotechnology research at the interfaces of chemistry, biology, materials science, physics, and engineering.”
AI Discerns Chemical ‘Fingerprints’ of Disease
The breathalyzer works by examining volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contained in exhaled breath to discern a medical condition. VOCs are a group of organic, carbon-based chemicals that evaporate quickly and easily at room temperature.
After the study participants exhaled into the machine, the researchers used artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze the number of VOCs in each breath and examine the VOC concentration patterns to determine if an illness was present. The researchers then examined the chemical structure of the breath samples and found 13 chemical components, in different compositions, in all 17 of the diseases.
Hossam Haick, PhD, of the Chemical Engineering Department at Technion was the lead author and researcher of the study.
“Each of these diseases is characterized by a unique fingerprint, meaning a different composition of these 13 chemical components. Just as each of us has a unique fingerprint that distinguishes us from others, each disease has a chemical signature that distinguishes it from other diseases and from a normal state of health,” stated Haick in a Technion article on the new breathalyzer test. “These odor signatures are what enables us to identify the diseases using the technology that we developed.”
The 17 different illnesses and unrelated diseases that can be detected by the device are:
• Lung cancer,
• Stomach cancer; and