Stories tagged lung

Sep
06
2009

Nano technology makes detecting lung cancer easy and affordable

Breathalyzer
BreathalyzerCourtesy 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

How lung cancer detectors work

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.

Learn more

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.

Apr
22
2009

We check for trees, da?
We check for trees, da?Courtesy Bethany L King
I know all y'all have been keeping your eyes on Science Buzz for updates in the case of the Russian dude with the tree "growing" in his lung. It's an international news event, after all, and we all like to keep up on this stuff.

Well we've got an update! (And update that appeared in the news last week, but still...)

Some South African medical professionals are calling shenanigans on the whole situation; they say it has to be a hoax.

They agree with the Russian doctors' claims that a 5 cm tree would be too big to inhale all the way into the lungs (it would be coughed out, or get caught on something long before it got so deep), but they don't think that it could have grown there either.

As several of the Science Buzz Lung Tree Task Force have likewise noticed, the South Africans find the green color of the needles a little suspicious. Usually plants growing in the dark (and the lungs are pretty dark inside) tend to be a little pale. Not so with this tree.

Also, the doctors point out that there is no precedence in medical literature for plants growing in people—it's just not the right environment.

The doctors also thought that the the tree looked "folded in to the lung tissue." Had it grown there, it should have looked more interwoven with the flesh.

Finally, they believe that the X-ray image of the man's lungs and the tree/tissue that was eventually taken out do not match. Something about how the tree showed up too much or not enough on the X-ray. (The translation from South African English to American English, perhaps, is the source of my confusion here.)

So the plot thickens. Are Russian surgeons contradicting biological laws to get attention, or are the the South Africans jealous because they've never found a tree inside someone's lung? Either way, we citizens of the Nation of Buzzahkstan are the winners.

Keep your eyes peeled for further developments. (Not literally.)