Courtesy mrjorgen The breath of people who have lung cancer is different than those who don't. For years scientists have been perfecting techniques that determines what exactly is different.
Expensive and complicated tools like gas chromatographs and mass spectrometers were used to identify and measure 42 volatile organic compounds that represent lung cancer biomarkers. Sensors were designed to react to four of these compounds.
Gang Peng of the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and colleagues have now developed what they say is an inexpensive, portable sensor technology that can quickly distinguish between the breath of lung cancer patients and healthy people. New York Times
Tiny gold nano size beads were coated with organic compounds that would react with the four lung cancer biomarkers. The particles were deposited as a thin film between two electrodes. The breath of someone with lung cancer reacts with the chemicals in the gold beads, changing their electrical resistance.
Physics World has a more complete explanation of how gold nano beads sense lung cancer.
The abstract of the research paper titled "Diagnosing lung cancer in exhaled breath using gold nanoparticles can be found in Nature Nanotechnology.