Dr Peter Mazzone and colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic have developed a small device that can detect cancer in breath. Cheap miniature cancer detectors will allow more frequent testing and earlier detection.
A breath test can successfully pick up lung cancer with "moderate accuracy" even in the early stages, reveals research published ahead of print in Thorax.
It could revolutionise the way cancer is detected and potentially save lives, say the authors.
The test comprises a chemical colour sensor, which detects tiny changes in the unique chemical signature of the breath of people with lung cancer.
Metabolic changes in lung cancer cells cause changes in the production and processing of volatile organic compounds, which are then breathed out
This sensor detected 3 out of 4 cases in people known to have lung cancer.
The concept of a "gas fingerprint" for lung cancer is not new, but the kit is.
The sensor, which is slightly bigger than a quarter dollar or a two pound coin, is inexpensive and easy to use.
The small size argues for an eventual low manufacturing cost. But see the picture the previous. It looks like it gets used once. In the longer run microfluidic devices and other silicon-based miniature devices will allow continuous monitoring with electronic connections to a personal health computer. Just lying in bed your bedstand will contain sensors that'll detect a large assortment of diseases while you sleep.
Diagnosis by doctors will become the exception rather than the rule as miniature sensors embedded in bathrooms, bedrooms, cars, workplaces, and in our bodies detect and diagnose diseases automatically. Early diagnosis will enable earlier treatments and better outcomes. Also, the automated nature of diagnosis will cut the cost of diagnosis by reducing the need for human labor.
Will the net result of early diagnosis cut or increases the percentage of the time people spend knowing they are sick? It depends on how much early diagnosis enables effective treatments and cures. If early diagnosis just lets you know further in advance that you have a fatal disease then people will spend more time pondering their coming death. But for cancer I'm hoping early diagnosis will increase cure rates as more cancers get caught and removed before metastasis.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2007 February 26 12:10 AM Biotech Assay Tools|