Researchers have developed an electronic nose, called an e-nose, that may potentially be able to diagnose pulmonary arterial hypertension by sniffing it on a person’s breath.

A large study evaluating the e-nose’s ability to detect PAH is now recruiting both patients and healthy individuals to serve as controls.

The PAH e-nose is the result of a partnership between Université Paris-Saclay in France and the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Israel. In its original form, the e-nose was used to detect cancer. It now has been adapted for the early detection of PAH, a rare form of high blood pressure in the lungs.

Common symptoms of PAH include shortness of breath, dizziness, and chest pain — symptoms that can be mistaken for other illnesses, delaying a proper PAH diagnosis. In these patients, the pulmonary arteries that transport blood from the heart to the lungs are narrowed or blocked, compromising the blood flow and increasing lung blood pressure, and eventually causing right-sided heart failure.

The artificial nose is a small, breath-diagnostic array based on flexible gold-nanoparticle sensors, that can ‘smell’ PAH on an individual’s breath, because the disease alters the breath’s signature by changing the profile of volatile organic compounds in exhaled air.

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