Can Electronic Nose Diagnose Asthma in Future
On May 21,2007, researchers from the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, presented a paper at the American Thoracic Society 2007 International Conference. The paper was about a futuristic device called the Electronic Nose. The device was conceived to diagnose Asthma. After three years of research, scientists from Italy are convinced that the device will be a reality soon. The results of this finding are published in the April issue of the journal CHEST of the American College of Chest Physicians. This article tries to gain further insight on this device.
How the Electronic Nose Works ?
Human breath contains a mixture of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are carbon compounds which enter into the earth’s atmosphere easily. The researchers rely on these VOCs as the markers of lung disease like Asthma. Sensors are placed in the device. These sensors respond to a particular smell by generating a typical pattern. This pattern is technically called a “smell print”. The smell print is then compared with stored patterns. Thus diagnosis of respiratory infections like pneumonia or Asthma can be carried out by comparing the smell print a patient with breath pattern of a healthy individual.
How Effective is the Electronic Nose ?
The device initially (in the year 2007) was able to diagnose Asthma. But it failed in finding out the severity of this chronic lung disease. Latest study was conducted on this device in Italy. Researchers compared the performance of the device in diagnosing lung disease with common techniques like lung function tests and exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO). The device and rest of the two techniques were applied on seven asthma patients and an equal number of healthy individuals to compare the performance. At the end of the study, the following were the results:
|S.No.||Method of Diagnosis||Diagnostic Performance in Percentage|
Researchers found that the performance of the device increased further when it was combined with FeNO technique.
Significance of the Electronic Nose: 7 percent of Americans suffer from Asthma disease. It causes 4000 deaths every year. Treatment of this disease is possible only by consulting the doctor on a regular basis. Awareness about the factors which initiate an asthma attack is imperative. However, presence of a handy device like the Electronic nose in the market can prove very beneficial for asthma patients.