Carbon Nanotubes Detect Lung Cancer Markers in the Breath

Nov 20, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Using an array of nanotube devices, each coated with a different organic material, researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology have developed diagnostic system that may be able to diagnose lung cancer simply by sampling a patient’s breath. The results of this study, which was led by Hossam Haick, Ph.D., appear in the journal Nano Letters.

Dr. Haick and his collaborators first created individual devices consisting of random networks of single-walled carbon nanotubes coated with 1 of 10 different insulating nonpolymeric organic materials. The investigators used standard microprocessor fabrication techniques to create the sensors. Thanks to the different organic materials used to coat the nanotubes, each sensing device provided a unique response when exposed to wide variety of the more than 200 volatile organic chemicals present in human breath.

To calibrate the devices, the investigators captured the breath of 15 nonsmoking healthy patients and 15 individuals with stage 4 lung cancer. Next, they concentrated the organic compounds in each breath sample using a method known as solid phase microextraction and then analyzed each sample using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). GC-MS is a highly accurate technique that is too expensive and time consuming to find use as a routine diagnostic assay. The researchers then ran the same samples through their sensor array; the electrical output of the test devices changed in a way that was characteristic of the exact mixture of organic compounds found in the breath samples.

From these data, the investigators were able to distinguish between two response patterns from each of the 10 array members. There was no overlap in the response patterns between the healthy and lung cancer patients in these first tests. The researchers are now testing their system on a much larger group of patients and healthy subjects.

This work is detailed in the paper “Detecting simulated patterns of lung cancer biomarkers by random network of single-walled carbon nanotubes coated with nonpolymeric organic materials.” An abstract of this paper is available at the journal’s Web site.

Provided by National Cancer Institute

Explore further: Scientists trace nanoparticles from plants to caterpillars

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fun cryptography app pleases students and teachers

4 hours ago

Up on Google Play this week is Cryptoy...something that you might want to check out if you or someone you know wishes entry into the world of cryptography via an educational and fun app. You learn more about ciphers and keys; you ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.