A Roman University team claims to have invented an electronic nose so
sensitive that it can detect early forms of tumours and other illnesses,
including impending heart attacks, by "sniffing" a person's breath, sweat
or urine. Called the Libra Nose, this small device, was developed by
Prof Arnaldo D'Amico with Corrado Di Natale and Alessandro Mantini
of Rome University (at Tor Vergata).
It works on the basis that illnesses produce chemical changes in the human
organism which while not detectable to the senses, emit different odours.
By being trained to recognise sample smells, the instrument would soon
be able to detect a whole range of illnesses, scientists said.
Prof D'Amico, a specialist in electronic sensors, said that the instrument
was now being used in experiments in order to build up a dictionary of
As a result Libra Nose would be able to precisely detect early signs of
illnesses such as lung cancer before any other form of test.
The method could also be used to track the evolution of an illness,
and to detect illnesses in newborn babies.
"We are comparing the breath of groups of people afflicted with
different illness, with that of people who are well," Prof A'Amico said.
"The outcome will be a series of chemical photographs [by means
of some chemio-opto-coupling device] revealing different characteristics,
according to the condition of the human organism.
Prof D'Amico said that the device could also be used in the study of
dietetics and sport, and by a woman to check her hormone changes
and periods of fertility with precision.
But, as you can see, the LibraNose is specialized in testing (and tasting?)
wines. [They told me that this device, due to very complex memories
and neural nets, is now capable of recognize a 1992 Brunello wine
among others Brunello.]
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