Penn Researchers Discover Use Of Electronic 'Nose'

October 22, 1997

(Philadelphia, PA) -- Cats, dogs, and other animals depend on their noses for survival, so why not try to find a more significant medical use for the sense of smell for humans? This is the rationale behind research conducted by C. William Hanson, III, MD, associate professor of anesthesia and chief of anesthesia/critical care medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. The use of a novel electronic "nose" to diagnose the presence of pulmonary infection will be presented by Hanson at the American Society of Anesthesiologists annual meeting on Wednesday, October 22, in San Diego.

Breath samples were collected in plastic bags from the ventilators of 19 intubated intensive care patients (nine of whom were already diagnosed with pneumonia) and fed into the aroma- analysis device. The exhaled gas was analyzed with the device's multi-element odor detectors which interact with volatile molecules to produce unique patterns displayed in two-dimensional "maps", or dot patterns, on a computer screen. The device displays varying electrical resistances to the breath sample's volatile molecules by plotting to distinctively different patterns on the screen -- distinguishing infected patients from noninfected patients.

The use of the electronic "nose" has several major advantages over conventional diagnostic tools and has great potential as a method to detect other diseases, as well as pulmonary infections. "Rather than waiting two to three days for the results of a bacterial culture, or relying on chest X-rays that may be inaccurate, doctors can almost instantaneously evaluate their patients for infection," says Hanson. "Doctors can also avoid prescribing powerful, often un-needed antibiotics while waiting for test results -- drugs that may foster the growth of resistant bacteria."

The sense of smell has long been used as a diagnostic tool by medical professionals. However, because of its subjectivity, it has never gained prominence in medicine -- until now. By displaying accurate results in minutes, the aroma-analysis device could decrease or eliminate the need for expensive cultures and X-rays, as well as minimize the unnecessary use of antibiotics. The innovative use of breath samples, coupled with current computer technology, has produced the ability to detect infection faster, easier, and at an earlier stage, with the potential for future utilization in the diagnoses of a wide range of diseases.
Editor's Notes:
Dr. Hanson can be reached directly at (215) 662-3753 until October 16. From October 16 - 22, please contact Diane Giaccone to reach him at the ASA annual meeting in San Diego.

Dr. Hanson's research on the effectiveness of the aroma-analysis device in the detection of pneumonia was published in the September supplement of Anesthesiology, a peer-review scientific journal. Dr. Hanson holds stock in AromaScan, the manufacturer of the AromaScanner Analyser which was used as the electronic "nose" in this study.

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Related Antibiotics Articles from Brightsurf:

Insights in the search for new antibiotics
A collaborative research team from the University of Oklahoma, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Merck & Co. published an opinion article in the journal, Nature Chemical Biology, that addresses the gap in the discovery of new antibiotics.

New tricks for old antibiotics
The study published in the journal Immunity reveals that tetracyclines (broad spectre antibiotics), by partially inhibiting cell mitochondria activity, induce a compensatory response on the organism that decreases tissue damage caused during infection.

Benefits, risks seen with antibiotics-first for appendicitis
Antibiotics are a good choice for some patients with appendicitis but not all, according to study results published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

How antibiotics interact
Understanding bottleneck effects in the translation of bacterial proteins can lead to a more effective combination of antibiotics / study in 'Nature Communications'

Are antivitamins the new antibiotics?
Antibiotics are among the most important discoveries of modern medicine and have saved millions of lives since the discovery of penicillin almost 100 years ago.

Hygiene reduces the need for antibiotics by up to 30%
A new paper published in the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), finds improved everyday hygiene practices, such as hand-washing, reduces the risk of common infections by up to 50%, reducing the need for antibiotics, by up to 30%.

Antibiotics: City dwellers and children take the most
City dwellers take more antibiotics than people in rural areas; children and the elderly use them more often than middle-aged people; the use of antibiotics decreases as education increases, but only in rich countries: These are three of the more striking trends identified by researchers of the NRW Forschungskolleg ''One Health and Urban Transformation'' at the University of Bonn.

Metals could be the link to new antibiotics
Compounds containing metals could hold the key to the next generation of antibiotics to combat the growing threat of global antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotics from the sea
The team led by Prof. Christian Jogler of Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, has succeeded in cultivating several dozen marine bacteria in the laboratory -- bacteria that had previously been paid little attention.

Antibiotics not necessary for most toothaches, according to new ADA guideline
The American Dental Association (ADA) announced today a new guideline indicating that in most cases, antibiotics are not recommended for toothaches.

Read More: Antibiotics News and Antibiotics Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to