Electronic "nose" sniffs out lung disease at Amsterdam hospital

SpiroNose. (Photo: AMC)

Amsterdam hospital AMC developed an electronic "nose" that can diagnose lung diseases by the 'smell' of a patient's breath. The SpiroNose uses substances in the breath to make a diagnosis, which is correct in nine out of ten cases, the hospital announced in a press release.

Many lung diseases are difficult to diagnose, which results in proper treatment often starting too late. "For many new and expensive medicines there are no tests to determine which drug will work for which patient. Treatment is then based on trial and error, a time consuming and costly search", Rianne de Vries, research director at AMC, said in the statement. "The SpiroNose can change that. With inflammation, infection or lung tumor, the exhaled air contains specific substances that the SpiroNose can detect within a minute."

Research conducted with the Dutch Cancer Institute also suggests that the SpiroNose can distinguish between lung cancer patients who will and will not respond to immunotherapy, even before treatment starts. 

The SpiroNose is linked with a database called the BreathCloud. Over the past two years De Vries, working with various hospitals and doctors, compiled the database with breath data of 2,700 lung disease patients. Doctors can compare breath data from the SpiroNose with the data in the BreathCloud for a diagnosis and medication recommendations.