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Electronic nose that precisely 'smells' prostate cancer
Friday May 2, 2014 11:22 AM, IANS

Sniffing out food or danger fine but prostate cancer? Yes, if we believe Finnish investigators, an electronic nose can very well diagnose prostate cancer - the second most common cancer in males - by smelling urine samples.

In a proof of principle study, the 'eNose' successfully discriminated between prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) by 'sniffing' urine headspace - the space directly above the urine sample.

"eNoses have been studied in various medical applications, including early detection of cancer, especially from exhaled air," informed Niku KJ Oksala, from school of medicine at University of Tampere, Finland.

"Preliminary data suggested that detection of urologic malignancies from urine headspace was possible. Our own preliminary results on prostate cancer cells encouraged us to launch this prospective clinical study," he added.

The heterogeneity of prostate cancer makes it difficult to diagnose and predict tumour progression. Thus, there is a need for novel diagnostic tools.

The eNose was tested on 50 patients who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer confirmed by biopsy, and 15 patients with BPH.

The eNose is a device that consists of a cluster of nonspecific sensors.

When the device is exposed to the sample, it produces a profile or a "smell print".

Results with the eNose confirmed that using urine headspace, the eNose was able to discriminate prostate cancer from BPH, said the study appeared in the Journal Of Urology.

"The performance with the eNose matches that of prostate specific antigen (PSA) test results in previous literature and the results are achieved rapidly and in a completely noninvasive manner," Oksala commented.

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