Sniffing out Disease with Smartphones

A clever sensor device can tell if you have stomach cancer, and it does this just by ‘smelling’ your breath.

transportation, beacons, clever sensor device, Smart device, nanochips, type 2 diabetes, graphene, Wastewater treatment, kidney disease, cancer treatment, data transmission, sensitive robots, Photovoltaic, hydrogen mobility, genetic codes, wastewater treatment, Earthquake Defences, food waste, plastic pollution, Breast Cancer, renewable resources, energy self-sufficient, cancer, Infectious Disease in Dogs, Printed Solar Cell, chronic diseases, Radical Aircraft Engine, Infrared Sensor, Mummifying, bacterial and viral infection, steel waste gases, Hydrogen-Powered Mobility, Gene cluster identification, Equipment Waste, plant cells, biodegradable materials, climate change, biomedical devices, Stretchable Smart Sensor, brain cells, interstitium, Mediterranean diet, Bat DNA, graphene, global warming, infectious disease, INTEGRA , cancer, Huntington, man flu, black hole, Carbon dioxide, genes, Alzheimer, Brain-computer interfaces, graphene, immune system, topology, climate change, Twin Embryos, blue brain, climate change, human genome, mature B cell neoplasia, artificial iris, autonomous robot, chemotherapy, tidal energy, Nanomedicine, ecosystem, Mycotoxins, obesity, methylisation, deep drilling, brain scans, volcanic gas, biocatalyst enzymes, earthquakes, detectors, robotics, asthma sufferers, infrastructure, olive trees, solar energy, satellites, olive oil, robotic arms, zika virus, locked-in state, digital detox, climate change, climate, stroke, The new production method was developed by engineers at the University of Exeter. It consists in creating entire device arrays directly on the copper substrates used for the commercial production of graphene, after which complete and fully-functional devices can be transferred to a substrate of choice. This process has been demonstrated by producing a flexible and completely transparent graphene oxide-based humidity sensor. Not only does this device outperform currently-available commercial sensors, but it’s also cheap and easy to produce using common wafer-scale or roll-to-roll manufacturing techniques. ‘The conventional way of producing devices using graphene can be time-consuming, intricate and expensive and involves many process steps including graphene growth, film transfer, lithographic patterning and metal contact deposition,’ explains Prof David Wright from Exeter's Engineering department. ‘Our new approach is much simpler and has the very real potential to open up the use of cheap-to-produce graphene devices for a host of important applications from gas and bio-medical sensors to touch-screen displays.’ One of team’s main objectives was to increase the range of surfaces that graphene devices can be put on. Whilst the demonstrated humidity sensor was integrated in a plasdinosaur, dieting, coral, dengue epidemics, vaccines, thermal energy, artificial intelligence, Cloudlightning, Memristors, Sensory Tool, HIV, autonomous robot, offshore renewable energy, Wearable robots, processors, Artificial, climate, plasmons, Antarctica’s ice, cryogenic preservation

Gastric cancer, also known as stomach cancer, is the fifth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Europe. Because of the lack of early signs specifically related to the disease, it’s usually only detected at an advanced stage – when treatment is for the most part ineffective.

Driven to improve stomach and other cancer survival rates, for many years scientists around the world have been researching the use of breath tests as a means of early detection. The idea of breath tests is based on the fact that people with gastric cancer have unique mixtures of chemicals in their breath compared to other diseases and healthy people. These volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are produced by the cancer are found in patients’ exhaled breath. VOCs have a distinctive smell that can help doctors to detect early signs of the disease.

Furthering global scientific efforts towards early cancer detection using breath tests, the EU-funded project SNIFFPHONE has now developed a smartphone app that can identify whether someone has stomach cancer. The app analyses exhaled gases using the SniffPhone, a compact handheld sensor device that is plugged into a smartphone. Providing instant results, this non-invasive method has the potential to radically change cancer screening in the future.

How does it work?

Users hold the device in front of their mouths and exhale, providing the breath sample. Using its highly sensitive nanomaterial-based chemical sensors, the SniffPhone measures the VOCs in the exhaled breath. Using a smartphone, the measurements are then sent via Bluetooth to a dedicated cloud platform for analysis by medical personnel. If the data shows signs of cancer, the patient’s doctor is alerted.

The SniffPhone screening method has a number of advantages. “The device is comfortable and painless to use. In addition, it provides a simple, fast and cost-effective alternative for screening gastric cancers,” says Dr Kari Antila of project partner VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in a news itemposted on the website of the digital newspaper ‘The London Economic’. Equally important, SniffPhone users can also look forward to fewer compatibility hassles, since the app that’s installed on the smartphone supports both Android and iOS.

Recognition and next steps

SNIFFPHONE (Smart Phone for Disease Detection from Exhaled Breath) received the European Commission’s 2018 Innovation Award for Most Innovative Project in November last year. Currently, the SniffPhone prototypes have been distributed among the project’s medical partners for further clinical testing. “The next step in the project is finding financiers for this kind of novel cancer screening method. Commercialisation of the device is planned to take place through a spin-off company,” reports Dr Antila. The project team’s ultimate aim is for the method to work for other forms of cancer too.

For more information, please see: SNIFFPHONE project website