Project Details

Womens mouth


A phone so smart, it sniffs out disease

By Technion

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Project Twitter: @TechnionLive

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  • Health
  • Social Exclusion
  • Mobile
  • Physical Computing

Early detection of lung cancer demands an exhaustive process of tests and invasive procedures. Many times, patients come into clinics after symptoms have already started to appear. It’s by far the most common cause of cancer-related death, responsible in the US for more than the next three forms of cancer combined.

In Israel, lung cancer causes almost 2,000 deaths a year. In response, Professor Hossam Haick has led a consortium of researchers in developing SNIFFPHONE – a device that screens a user’s breath to provide early detection of several life-threatening diseases. SNIFFPHONE is an iteration of Professor Haick’s work with NaNose breathalyser technology at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and the consortium behind the device is supported by a €6m (£4.4m) research grant.

Lung cancer tumours produce detectable chemicals in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs produce a discernible ‘smell’ profile, and the bigger the tumour the more robust the profile. SNIFFPHONE detects VOCs to a high degree of accuracy: lab tests sorted healthy patients from those with lung cancer 85% of the time, and distinguished between early- and advanced-stage cancer at a 79% success rate.

SNIFFPHONE works together with a smartphone and has the potential to revolutionise early-stage diagnosis, especially in rural areas of the developing world where traditional expensive equipment may not be available. The technology works not just for cancer, but also for other pulmonary and even some neurodegenerative diseases.

Alongside SNIFFPHONE, Professor Haick is continuing to develop other technology to fight disease, and is working hard towards his goal of making healthcare affordable for everybody – democratising access across the world.

Image 'breath' courtesy of lenchensmama.

Last updated: 02nd of September, 2015

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