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Smell of success for nanobiosensors

action that takes place in animal noses, the project partners are now planning to continue their research and develop the instrumentation and software tools necessary for an electronic nose to recognise smells ?the role played by the brain in the olfactory system. In this sense, new high accuracy electronic instrumentation capable of performing electrical measurements at the nanoscale level has been developed and adapted to an atomic force microscope with atofarad precision (10-15).

This, Samitier says, could lead to medical applications to diagnose organ failure, bacterial infections or diseases such as cancer being made commercially available within a few years, as well as devices that would have a major impact on other sectors. A major challenge of these new diagnostic tools lies in the establishment of a precise odorant disease signature, understood as the mix of volatile compounds whose concentration in a body fluid (i.e. urine, blood, pus, etc) or in the breath varies in patients with the malignancy with respect to healthy individuals. Moreover, smell technology could, for example, be used to detect rotten food, test cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, identify pollutants or scan for drugs and bombs at airports, replacing chemical sensors that are only able to detect a single substance.


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