Chinese researchers have developed a simple, rapid device for detecting volatile organic compounds on the breath, demonstrating potential for early cancer detection
Researchers from Chongqing University in China have developed a high sensitive fluorescence-based sensor device that can rapidly identify cancer related volatile organic compounds — biomarkers found exclusively in the exhaled breath of some people with lung cancer.
Their work, described in a paper published this week in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, from AIP Publishing, demonstrates the potential of the device to be used as a breathalyzer for early lung cancer detection — possibly a safe and effective method of detecting cancer early that may save lives.
According to the researchers, the laboratory results are promising, but the device would still need to prove effective in clinical trials before its widespread adoption as a diagnostic tool.
“Our results show that the device can discriminate different kinds and concentrations of cancer related volatile organic compounds with a nearly100 percent accurate rate,” said Jin-can Lei, the primary researcher and a postdoc from the College of Optoelectronic Engineering, Chongqing University. “This would also be a rapid method in that the entire detection process in our experiment only takes about 20 minutes.”
Based on a small, circular plate called fluorescent cross-responsive sensor array, a specially-designed rotary gas chamber and a data collection and processing system, the device can detect lung cancer related gases at very low concentration, or below 50 parts per billion (ppb), showing a potential to identify lung cancer at the early stage. Lei said. Parts per billion is a technical unit used to describe very low-concentration contaminants, the amount of one parts per billion can be imagined as one pinch of salt in 10 tons of potato chips.
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