A Tool for Disease Detection Is Right Under Our Noses

A Tool for Disease Detection Is Right Under Our Noses

In March, researchers published a review that lists which organic chemicals match up with certain diseases and biomarkers in the skin, saliva and urine. It’s an important step in creating a robot nose that can reliably detect diseases.

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

The doctor will sniff you now? Well, not on his or her own, but with a device that functions like a superhuman nose. You’ll exhale into a breathalyzer, or a sensor will collect “scent data” from a quick pass over your urine or blood sample. Then, AI software combs through an olfactory database to find patterns in the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) you secreted that match those associated with thousands of VOC disease biomarkers that have been identified and cataloged.

No further biopsy, imaging test or procedures necessary for the diagnosis. According to some scientists, this is how diseases will be detected in the coming years.

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Eve Glicksman
Eve Glicksman is a freelance writer and editor in the Washington, DC, area following a long career in Philadelphia. She writes for the health and science section of The Washington Post along with a mix of stories for other media and associations on trends, culture, psychology, lifestyle, business and travel. Previously, she served as a managing editor for UnitedHealth Group and the Association for American Medical Colleges. To see more of her work, visit eveglicksman.com. 
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