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'Electronic Nose' Sniffs Out Asthma
Date:4/7/2010

is of asthma.

To do this, all of the study volunteers were given all three tests. Each test is non-invasive, requiring only the use of exhaled air.

The electronic nose was able to correctly differentiate healthy people from those with physician-diagnosed asthma in 87.5 percent of the cases. FENO was able to correctly identify asthma in 79.2 percent of the study volunteers and lung function testing (spirometry) discerned just 70.8 percent of the people with asthma.

When the electronic nose and FENO were combined, the two tests together correctly identified almost 96 percent of the asthma cases.

"This is potentially a great tool. It could be used for screening if it's affordable or for seeing the affect of anti-inflammatory medicines. But, it definitely needs more research," said Leath.

Two other asthma experts agreed.

"This device is interesting and warrants a further look, but it still needs to be perfected and the researchers need to figure out its niche," said Dr. Jennifer Appleyard, chief of allergy and immunology at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit. "We need to know if it's good for diagnostics or for measuring improvements after treatment. In some diseases, you use blood markers to monitor treatment response. Could you use this to see if patients are responding? We also need to know if it's good for diagnosing all types of asthma."

Dr. David Rosenstreich, director of the division of allergy and immunology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, added: "An objective and fast test for diagnosing asthma would be helpful, and this test seems to be a non-invasive way of sampling for the underlying problem. This test seems relatively easy for patients and it does have potential, but they've only looked at a very narrow collection of people who have allergic asthma."

Both Appleyard and Leath noted that cost might initially limit the use of an electronic nose.
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