Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The sense of smell has been used to diagnose disease since ancient times. In fact, more recently dogs have even been trained to sniff out cancer. However, it is the use of electronic or e-noses which is relatively new.
E-noses were first used to detecting food spoilage or chemical leaks, but now more sophisticated and sensitive instruments are being used to diagnose a widening scope of diseases.
"When you have an exhaled breath, there are all sorts of volatile organic compounds that are produced," says Serpil Erzurum, a pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic and co-author of a 2005 study on the use of electronic noses to help diagnose lung cancer. "Those compounds are a result of metabolism and, when you have cancer, metabolism changes and the volatile organic compounds are altered. The changes are detectable by an electronic nose." Hanson showed that the technology is useful for diagnosing chronic sinusitis and pneumonia, and other researchers proved that the noses can distinguish asthmatic patients from healthy ones. And the noses don't just analyze breath. Some can also sniff out infections in urine, blood and other bodily fluids. A team of British scientists, for instance, used electronic noses to pinpoint antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the nasal swabs of hospital patients.