Electronic Nose Sniffs out TB

Laura Pisano

In India this week, researchers have developed something called the E.Nose. The E.Nose is a device similar to that of a breathalyzer. It is hand-held and battery operated. The purpose of this E.Nose is to detect tuberculosis. The device works by using sensors that pick-up on biomarkers associated with TB in breath droplets.

China Daily says that this offers instantaneous and very accurate results. The electronic nose was developed by researchers at the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in New Delhi and Next Dimension Technologies in California. Leading researcher Ranjan Nanda says, “We hope to have a prototype ready for clinical testing by October of 2013.”

Japan Today says that the device would only cost $20-30, and since it is battery operated, it would be very accessible for rural communities in even the poorer countries like India. The device is sure to save thousands of lives.

TB kills millions of people every year. Detection currently uses sputum tests that cost more money, and they take much longer than the electric nose would. Nanda also told reporters, “Our research shows it might also be possible to use this technology for the early detection of other diseases like lung cancer and pneumonia”.

Tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs, but may spread to other organs. TB spreads by breathing in air droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person. Symptoms for TB include coughing up blood, excessive sweating, fatigue, fever, and unconventional weight loss. TB is very treatable by using the proper combination of drugs. Treatment is usually long lasting and could take up to six months to get rid of. Often times, the first few weeks of treatment take place in a hospital or secluded area. This is because TB is highly contagious and can cause outbreaks. TB is more prevalent in poorer and under-developed countries. Hopefully this new E.Nose will help save thousands of people.