Machines can smell your breath to diagnose you
Thanks to the new emerging field of volatolomics, the study of a person’s mechanical sniffle and finding out what’s wrong with them, diagnosis and treatment can begin much earlier, providing a better outcome.
Scientists are exploring ways to diagnose diseases by sniffing out chemical compounds from bodily emissions such as breath, sweat and tears.
These techniques are called volatolomic and require collaborative efforts from multidisciplinary players such as chemists, materials scientists and electrical engineers, according to a recently published review article. published in the magazine Nano-research.
“There is a consensus between the traditional Eastern and Western diagnosis of methodologies that feel the breath of the top [respiratory] is an effective way to clarify health conditions both in Hippocrates’ prognostic book written in 400 BC. 200 BC,” the study authors write.
Volatile Organic Compounds [VOCs] found in perfumes and flavors have high vapor pressure and low water solubility. They are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids.
All organisms deliberately release VOCs for a variety of purposes, including defense, communication, and reproduction. But VOCs are also released accidentally as part of all biological processes, including disease-related processes.
“Over the past 50 years, thousands of volatile biomarkers, i.e. VOCs, associated with various diseases or injuries have been identified and classified from multi-body sources.
“It stimulates the development of this new era, volatolomics, such as human exhalation, skin fumes, urine headspace, blood and feces, towards efficient, high-accuracy diagnosis/screening, non-invasive and painless diseases.”
Each VOC released by an organism contains a unique pattern of disease. That is, there is a specific VOC “signature” or “fingerprint” for each condition.
If researchers and clinicians can catalog the COV fingerprint of different diseases, and engineers then develop devices that could quickly identify a match to those fingerprints, it could create a breakthrough development in diagnosis and treatment.
“The chemical analysis (detection and monitoring) of compounds associated with the metabolic activities of an organism is at the cutting edge of science. Volatile metabolomics (volatolomics) is applied in a wide range of applications including: biomedical research, toxicological analysis, molecular communications, forensics, safety and security,” a previous study Explain.
In addition, the diagnosis of VOCs, relying on “sniffing”, is a non-invasive and painless procedure, unlike many existing diagnostic techniques.
There have been mentioned possibilities offered by volatolomics at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, where dogs learned to recognize the scent of SARS-CoV-2.
Still very new
Advancements in technology will make volatolomics feasible in the near future, whether in data mining, machine learning, or nanomaterial sensors.
“But the field is so young and attracts researchers from many fields such as chemistry, electrical engineering, computer science, materials science and, of course, clinicians who treat patients every day, who don’t have not used to talking to each other, who generally employ different methodologies, and who often don’t even use the same terms,” said Yun Qian, co-author of the review and researcher at Zhejiang University Cancer Center. .
“So we’ve brought together a group of us from these different disciplines to write a comprehensive review article that we hope will serve as a bridge connecting everyone’s expertise in this sprawling field.”
A new in-depth study of this very young field attempts to bridge the gap between the different disciplines involved.
To facilitate stakeholder collaboration, the authors have listed all VOCs associated with different diseases from all possible bodily sources in a Disease Volatile Reference Manual.
“This part of the review was crucial, as such a list of targets has been highly sought after by chemists, materials scientists and electrical engineers in particular,” added Mingshui Yao, another of the authors and researcher at State Key. Laboratory of Multiphase Complex Systems with Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“They needed to know what fingerprints or “biomarkers” they are designing their diagnostic equipment for. Now they can just search for that.
Additionally, the review provides commentary on the technologies involved in volatolomic analysis, including the ‘electronic nose’ (E-nose) and ‘photonic nose’ (P-nose), advanced devices used for the detection of VOCs.
The researchers believe that their review article “answers the question of how to connect clinic, volatolomics and detection technology well.”
They then attempt to further clarify “the relationship between volatolomics (bio-/chemical markers) and particular disease requirements” in the Conclusions and Future Perspectives section – for volatolomics-based diagnostics to be accepted as one of the standard diagnostic methods/techniques for specific diseases.
The authors hope that volatolomics can be used in the future as the gold standard in clinical diagnostics.
Source: TRTWorld and agencies