Breathalyzer developed to screen for lung cancer
A team at China’s Chongqing University says they have developed a device that can detect small organic compounds in a person’s breath that may signal lung cancer.
As reported in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, the small breathalyzer device uses fluorescence-based sensors to detect the compounds. By using a sensitive rotary gas chamber to collect and process molecules in the breath, the device was able to detect lung cancer molecules at very small concentrations with almost 100 percent accuracy. The device also works quickly, taking just 20 minutes to complete the diagnoses.
The team tested four compounds that are biomarkers for lung cancer in the breath. Sections of the gas chamber were created to react with one of the four molecules. Researchers were able to detect the compunds as they reacted in flourescence to a special light. Based on the pattern of fluorescence, researchers could detect the concentrations of the compounds and determine if lung cancer was present.
The researchers say this may be a simpler tool for clinicians to use in cancer screenings compared to traditional CT scans. While the laboratory results are promising, they noted that the device would still need to prove effective in clinical trials before it could be used as a diagnositic tool.