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'Electronic Nose' Could Spot Kidney Disease

Rat study suggests potential for noninvasive, early diagnostic test

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- An "electronic nose" that can sniff out chronic renal failure could offer a noninvasive and fairly inexpensive way to detect kidney disease in the earliest and most treatable stages, according to Israeli researchers who developed the technology.

In tests, the technology identified 27 volatile organic compounds in the exhaled breath of laboratory rats with no kidney function. The scientists then narrowed that down to the five most important compounds that signal the development of kidney disease.

The findings were published recently in the journal ACS Nano.

"This technology will enable diagnosis even before the disease begins to progress," the lead researcher, Dr. Hossam Haick of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, said in a news release from the American Technion Society. "When detected at such an early stage, kidney diseases can be dramatically slowed with medication and diet."

The next step in the research is to get the technology to distinguish between various types of kidney disease and identify their stages, the researchers said.

"Developing sensors that are sensitive enough to differentiate between the various stages of different kidney diseases will enable not just the diagnosis but also the ability to monitor with great accuracy a patient's response to medication and lifestyle changes," co-researcher Zaid Abassi, a professor medical faculty member at Ramban Medical Center, said in the news release.

The technology, developed to detect cancer from breath samples, is now being tested on breath samples from kidney disease patients.

More information

The U.S. National Kidney Disease Education Program has more about kidney disease.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Technion Society, news release, August 2009

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