‘Electronic nose’ sniffs out cancer in blood samples

The technology’s pattern recognition approach is similar to the way people’s own sense of smell works, where a distinct mixture of compounds tells the brain what it’s smelling. Photo: Pexels

(Steve Graff/ Futurity) — An odor-based test that sniffs out vapors emanating from blood samples was able to distinguish between benign and pancreatic and ovarian cancer cells with up to 95% accuracy, according to a new study.

The findings suggest that the tool—which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to decipher the mixture of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitting off cells in blood plasma samples—could serve as a noninvasive approach to screen for harder-to-detect cancers, such as pancreatic and ovarian.

“It’s an early study but the results are very promising,” says A.T. Charlie Johnson, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania. (…)

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