February 9, 2017 11:31 am
Updated: February 9, 2017 2:34 pm

Can this breath test tell if you have cancer or one of 16 other diseases?

WATCH: The device can "smell" certain kinds of diseases a patient may have from their breath, researchers say.

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If you’re a hypochondriac and are looking for a quick and non-invasive way to detect diseases early, doctors in Israel say the technology they’ve developed might be right for you. Their breath test device can diagnose up to 17 diseases, including cancer and Parkinson’s, researchers say.

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It’s called the “NaNose” device that can in the figurative sense, “smell” from a breath sample, certain kinds of diseases a patient may have. The device — developed by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology — works by having a patient breathe into a tube. Sensors inside then analyze more than 1,000 different kinds of “smelly compounds” to detect if anything is wrong.

Breathtec Biomedical, Inc., a private Israeli company recently entered into a license agreement with the makers.

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“Indeed, what we have found in our most recent research in this regard, that 17 types of disease have 13 common compounds that are found in all different types of disease, but the mixture of the compounds and the composition of these compounds changes from one disease to another disease,” Prof. Hossam Haick said.

“And this is what is really unique and what really we expect to see and utilize in order to make the diagnosis from exhaled breath.”

The NaNose uses an advanced technology called “artificial intelligent nanoarray.” It involves sensors that analyze data obtained from receptors that “smell” a patient’s breath. The team tested breath samples of more than 1,400 patients and was reportedly accurate 86 per cent of the time.

“So our main idea is to try an imitate what’s going on in nature. So like we can take a canine, a dog and train it to sense the smell of drugs, of explosives or a missing person, we are trying to do it artificially. And we can do that by using these nano-materials,” Dr. Yoav Broza, from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, said.

Although the device cannot replace traditional diagnostic methods, developers hope the technology can pave an easier way for affordable and earlier detection of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and different types of cancers like breast, prostate and gastric.

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At the moment, detecting a disease like lung cancer involves imaging technologies such as CT scans, which are ordered when patients are showing or complaining about certain symptoms. Researchers say sometimes a disease is only detected once it is too late. They hope the device will spearhead the vigorous testing process earlier.

Many companies are now trying to commercialize the technology, the researchers said. They say the future of early diagnosis of disease could be simple and hope health-care systems around the world will integrate their technology.

— With files from Reuters

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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