New type of artificial nose that can detect cancer cells developed in South Korea

Pusan National University researchers from South Korea has developed a new type of artificial nose, or electronic nose which is able to detect endocrine disruptors and distinguish the place of origin for food products, and, with further research, even track down cancer cells. The electronic nose identifies substances from odors that are typically imperceptible to a human nose. The technology has been around for some time now, and is often used for quality control in the food, beverage, and cosmetics industries, medical diagnosis, and environmental applications such as detecting gas leaks.

The latest device by the South Korean researchers was developed by sequencing M-13 bacteriophage, a type of harmless virus that was proliferated from E. coli bacteria as a host, in a specific order. Once the photonic nose is exposed to an aromatic chemical substance with a specific smell, a structural change occurs in the sequence of bacteriophage, altering the device’s color depending on the type of substance that it made contact with. Most of the current research is focused on making the devices smaller and more sensitive. The team’s full research findings were published in the January edition of Chemical Science by Royal Society of Chemistry.

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