The results obtained in the international project SNIFFPHONE *, in which an exhaled air analysis device to be connected to a smartphone has been developed, confirm the usefulness of the technology in the diagnosis of gastric cancer. In March, these results were published in the internationally acclaimed magazine CANCER.
In the SNIFFPHONE project, scientists developed a special device that can be connected to a mobile phone. The portable “electronic nose” will allow artificial intelligence to analyze the exhaled air and determine with good accuracy whether a person has stomach cancer or a precancerous condition. Scientists from Latvia, Israel, Germany, Ireland, Austria and Finland are involved in the project. The clinical part of the study was performed in Latvia and in our country the group was led by Mārcis Leja, Director of the Institute of Clinical and Preventive Medicine (LU KPMI), University of Latvia. The research work of the institute was carried out in close cooperation with the specialists of the Riga East University Hospital and the Academic Histology Laboratory, as well as the Digestive Diseases Center GASTRO.
Within the framework of the project, LU KPMI implemented patient involvement and device testing in clinical conditions. A recent scientific article featured a clinical study of 274 patients using an “electronic nose” to test their breath. 94 of them had a confirmed diagnosis of stomach cancer and surgery, while the rest were healthy and had an endoscopy. Analysis of sensor data revealed significant differences in exhaled air between patients with gastric cancer and 113 control participants with normal endoscopy results. The device also helped to detect, for example, pre-cancerous conditions of the stomach in 67 high-risk patients with relatively acceptable accuracy, which were then confirmed by additional analyzes.
The researchers emphasize that this device plays a particularly important role in the early diagnosis of gastric cancer, which would avoid late-onset cases and reduce patient mortality accordingly. In addition, the technology is relatively inexpensive, works quickly and accurately, and is non-invasive. For comparison, endoscopy, magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography are usually used to diagnose stomach cancer. In addition, the Sniffphone is portable, which allows it to be used outside the laboratory. The potential use of the new device is very wide and could be used in the future to detect and monitor other diseases.
Work on the development of an exhaled air analyzer is currently continuing in the framework of another international project – VOGAS *, which plans to make this device even more accurate.