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Metabolites. 2015 Mar 2;5(1):140-63. doi: 10.3390/metabo5010140.

Advances in electronic-nose technologies for the detection of volatile biomarker metabolites in the human breath.

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Southern Hardwoods Laboratory, Center for Bottomland Hardwoods Research, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, P.O. Box 227, Stoneville, MS 38776, USA.


Recent advancements in the use of electronic-nose (e-nose) devices to analyze human breath profiles for the presence of specific volatile metabolites, known as biomarkers or chemical bio-indicators of specific human diseases, metabolic disorders and the overall health status of individuals, are providing the potential for new noninvasive tools and techniques useful to point-of-care clinical disease diagnoses. This exciting new area of electronic disease detection and diagnosis promises to yield much faster and earlier detection of human diseases and disorders, allowing earlier, more effective treatments, resulting in more rapid patient recovery from various afflictions. E-nose devices are particularly suited for the field of disease diagnostics, because they are sensitive to a wide range of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and can effectively distinguish between different complex gaseous mixtures via analysis of electronic aroma sensor-array output profiles of volatile metabolites present in the human breath. This review provides a summary of some recent developments of electronic-nose technologies, particularly involving breath analysis, with the potential for providing many new diagnostic applications for the detection of specific human diseases associated with different organs in the body, detectable from e-nose analyses of aberrant disease-associated VOCs present in air expired from the lungs.

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