Breakthrough cancer detection technology detects mouth, throat cancer through breath

EPFL cancer detection Technology

Cancer is the third largest cause of deaths reported globally as late detection also reduces number of treatable victims drastically. However, a team of researchers led by Nico de Rooij in Neuchatel worked at SAMLAB in collaboration with EPFL to develop, perhaps, the quickest method available for detection of certain type of cancer cells. This device can detect cancer in mouth and throat only. Highly accurate micro-sensors are developed for this device, and they measure cancer signatures in breath. All a person will have to do is to breathe out into a mobile device to make the detection possible, that’s it. The team collaborated with the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel to test the device on real patients, who were either sick or had gone through a surgery for throat cancer. The results verified that the technology is accurate and the sensors were extremely efficient and effective.

Now, this invention has attracted Neuchatel – a company that will market this extremely helpful healthcare invention. At the base of this technology lies a Physics Nobel Prize co-winner, Heinrich Rohrer. He developed sensors consisting of silicon disks. Each disk is 500 micrometers in diameter. The disk is coated with polymer and suspends with the help of four bridges that integrate piezo-resistors.

When these disks are exposed to a breath air, polymer causes absorption of certain kind of molecules, which further causes deformation in these disks. It’s this deformation that is detected by four bridges to generate and transmit an electric signal. The device then deduces the signature of gases in breath including its concentration. To gain better overview of the gas composition, researchers used different polymers on each sensor.

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Regarding the challenges the team faced in developing accurate technology, Nico De Rooij said,

There are already on the market for molecular detection methods called” electronic nose “, but it is very difficult to analyze complex gases, such as breath. The moisture in particular can disturb the measurement, resulting in false-positive or false-negative.

The device works with computing devices including mobile phones. However, presently, it’s delivering better results when used with a computer. Scientists are hoping to deliver a tremendous boost to available cancer detection resources. Seriously, presently the available technological tools are very limited and aren’t as quick as this new technology can be. A quick diagnose means early detection, which, in turn, leads to early treatment.

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Madan has been writing about eco-friendly gadgets and technologies for over 5 years now. He has an inclination for all things green and wonderful. He is a local social activist with a global vision. When not writing, Madan can be seen capturing the best of urban wildlife in his DSLR lens.

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