Taking a whiff of your breath is one of the oldest diagnostic tools available to doctors. Even the Greeks did it to try and spot disease, and we’re training dogs to sniff cancer. But if human and canine noses don’t work, doctors could soon turn to an artificial nose that can diagnose seventeen diseases with one sniff.
The American Chemical Society has a look at a nanoarray that can diagnose you by getting blown on. Our breath contains trace amounts of chemicals that come from our bodies naturally, as well as what we consume and what our bodies turn it into. Chemists theorized that each disease has what they call a “breathprint,” a specific chemical makeup that can be used to spot each disease. So they put the idea to the test and found that, indeed, there was such a thing and that it meant a breathalyzer could be engineered that offers a quick diagnosis for everything from Parkinson’s to kidney disease.
This will, to some degree, still be imperfect. It likely won’t offer an ironclad diagnosis so much as a warning you need to get to the doctor and have more serious diagnostics run. But much like the coming tricorder revolution, being able to check your diagnosis at home before you go to the doctor will mean better, easier medical care.