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Electronic Noses Can Detect Prostate Cancer in Men
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Electronic Noses Can Detect Prostate Cancer in Men

Dogs are man's best friend, after all! Did you know that dogs can detect prostate cancer in men with 98% accuracy b...

Electronic Noses Can Detect Prostate Cancer in Men

Dogs are man's best friend, after all! Did you know that dogs can detect prostate cancer in men with 98% accuracy by sniffing a urine sample? An impressive fact, considering that traditional blood tests deliver imprecise results with many false positives. Since it's impractical for trained dogs to sniff out cancers in hospitals, scientists worldwide hope to replicate an electronic nose that will mimic the canine’s ability.

 

An early diagnosis is crucial to the treatment of any type of cancer. Finnish researchers have been conducting molecular analysis of the atmosphere in the top of urine samples to figure out which organic elements relate to prostate cancer.

 

“We see molecules at the stages when the tumor is very small,” said Dr. Niku Oksala, lead investigator at University of Tampere. “We have found there are over 30 molecule compounds in a tumor that are very smelly and easily sniffed. Eventually this can be used as a test for every cancer in the Western world.”


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To diagnose these silent killers, the Finnish research methods are being applied throughout the world: the Israeli Technion Institute has developed the NaNose concept that detects lung cancer by means of a breath test, and the “Electronic Nose” to test tuberculosis is being funded by Grand Challenges Canada and the Gates Foundation.


The concept of electronic noses was first developed in the 1980s, but it delivered unreliable diagnoses. The new generation of devices, however, will be able to detect illnesses with great precision. Dogs find it easy to detect many different odors in an individual at any given time, so for a device to achieve that information is a next generation challenge, states Dr. Gary Beauchamp, director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Pennsylvania.


Dr. Beauchamp reckons that smell recognition could be used in a combination with other tests to establish an early diagnosis. “They could become part of a routine examination in much the same way as blood tests,” he said. “That seems to me a likely scenario.”

 

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