New Breathalyzer Detects Lung Cancer

Breathalyzers have been around for years, letting cops determine just how drunk you were when you plowed into their parked car. But now, a new breathalyzer has been developed that can detect lung cancer.

The team devised a sensor system made from nine chemiresistors that could respond to the biomarkers by altering their electrical properties. The chemiresistors were assembled from gold nanoparticles that are 5nm in diameter and functionalized with different organic compounds that allowed them to sense the biomarkers.

When the researchers exposed the sensors to untreated breath samples, they obtained readings that clearly distinguished between the exhalations of healthy patients and those with lung cancer. Regardless of the humidity of the breath, the gender of its source, or their smoking habits, the sensors were able to detect the lung cancer biomarkers. The sensors were also capable of working with a wide range of concentrations, and the process was reversible, meaning the nanoparticles can be reused.

It's not clear if the new breathalyzers can detect the cancer in its early stages—the study focused on stage-3 or stage-4 patients—but it's a significant step forward in detection nonetheless. Next time you get pulled over on your way home from the bar a DUI may not be the worst news you get. Harsh. [Ars Technica]