Smartphone app ‘smells’ cancer cells


The smartphones of the future will analyse our breath and tell if we have cancer, if an Israeli company’s latest innovation makes it to market.

And while the idea seems pie-in-the-sky, scientists are confident that it will succeed — so much so that the research chiefs at the European Union have awarded NanoVation-GS a six million-euro grant.

Smartphones will get the information about breath from a tiny add-on device, and interpret it via an app.

It is the newest application of NaNose, a piece of Israeli nanotechnology that analyses hundreds of different gases that are contained in breath, and checks if they point to cancerous growths. The device can also detect a range of other illnesses.

The scientist behind NaNose and its smartphone incarnation, SniffPhone, is Hossam Haick of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

He said that the device can save lives because it gives a crucial early warning about the disease — especially lung cancer, which creates strong smell patterns. “CT scans or X-Rays rarely detect lung cancer in its early stages,” he said.

News of the development is generating widespread discussion in medical circles. Uri Yoel, a cancer expert from Ben Gurion University, called it “important” and “exciting”.

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