Early Detection

New electronic sensors developed by a research team at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology can detect ovarian cancer in patient breath samples. The sensors, which track Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), are made from flexible polymer substrate with gold nanoparticles.. "The flexible sensors allow the collection of a significantly larger amount of data, which allows us to build a physically smaller sensing system, as well as a cheaper one," explains the study's lead author, Nichole Kahn. VOCs are regularly exhaled by the body at very low concentrations. Changes in metabolism caused by a specific illness cause deviations in the composition or concentration of VOCs in the breath, which can identify sick individuals. The study has had  43 volunteers and has reached 82 percent accuracy.

Saving Lives

As a diagnostic tool, these sensors can prove to be a reliable, non-invasive method that can replace expensive and high-risk ovarian cancer detection methods such as the pelvic exam, radioimmunoassay or ultrasound. The option to have a test cost-effective enough for universal screening can aid early detection and increase survival rate of those diagnosed with the disease. Further studies are also exploring how the technology can be used to detect other cancers, including colon, prostate, breasts, lung, gastric and liver, as well as application towards identifying non-cancerous diseases such as Alzheimers, hypertension, Parkinson’s and tuberculosis.

 


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