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Breathalyzer Diagnoses 17 Different Diseases, Including MS, Using a Single Breath

January 4, 2017

A team of Israeli scientists has further developed its breathalyzer technology, and a recent clinical study demonstrated an 86 percent success rate identifying 17 different diseases. The researchers’ nanoarray uses data collected from over 1,400 subjects to establish “breathprints” for diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis, and then relies upon artificial intelligence technology to make a diagnosis.

The project, led by Hosam Haick from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, was first introduced in 2015 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Conference. The technology — then called the NaNose breathalyzer system — demonstrated the ability to detect lung cancer with 90 percent accuracy, even when traditional imaging diagnostic techniques were non-conclusive and potentially cancerous nodules were too small to effectively biopsy.

To establish a “breathprint” of different diseases, researchers collected 2,800 breath samples from over 1,400 subjects, diagnosed with 17 different diseases using traditional methods. Each breath was analyzed for compounds and quantity ratios to establish connections between VOCs and disease, using a nanoarray made from gold nanoparticles and single-wall carbon nanotubes. This data was then plugged into AI technology and used in a device to diagnose diseases like multiple sclerosis, Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, a variety of cancers and chronic kidney failure. The device was accurate “nearly nine out of 10 times,” said researchers.

“Overall these findings could contribute to one of the most important criteria for successful health innovation in the modern era,” wrote the study authors, noting that the device was easy-to-use, affordable, and portable enough to be used as a point-of-care diagnostic, as well as holding the potential to identify more diseases beyond the 17 already demonstrated.

The market for breathalyzer-related diagnostics and VOC-based research is heating up, according to CNN. A new medical journal — the Journal of Breath Research — will begin publishing in March of 2017.