They produced a nanowire 10,000 times thinner than a human hair that can be cheaply grown by common bacteria and tuned to “smell.”

Scientists have developed an artificial nose that can sniff out diseases, including cancer and COVID-19, according to a recent paper published in the journal Nature Communications. The technology was developed by a team of researchers from the University of Maryland and is based on a type of sensor known as a “field-effect transistor.”

The artificial nose works by detecting volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are chemicals that are emitted by various diseases, including cancer and respiratory infections like COVID-19. The sensor is made up of a thin layer of graphene, which is a highly conductive material that can detect even the smallest changes in the surrounding environment.

“We’ve essentially created a nose that can detect diseases by ‘smelling’ the chemicals they give off,” said Joseph Wang, a professor of nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the study. “This is an exciting development that could have a significant impact on healthcare.”

The researchers tested the artificial nose on samples of breath and urine from patients with cancer and COVID-19, as well as healthy individuals. The nose was able to distinguish between the different samples with high accuracy, indicating its potential as a diagnostic tool.

“We’re still in the early stages of this technology, but we’re excited about its potential to revolutionize the way we diagnose and treat diseases,” said William Bentley, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Maryland and senior author of the study. “We envision a future where patients could simply breathe into a device to get an instant diagnosis, without the need for invasive procedures or lengthy lab tests.”

The development of the artificial nose is just one example of the growing field of “nanobiotechnology,” which combines nanotechnology with biology to create new diagnostic and therapeutic tools. As these technologies continue to advance, they could help improve healthcare outcomes and save countless lives.

“We believe that this technology has the potential to transform the field of healthcare and enable new forms of personalized medicine,” said Bentley. “We’re excited to continue working on this technology and exploring its many applications.”

Via The Impactlab