Electronic Nose Created to Sniff Out Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Almost everyone knows that dogs have amazing noses. Society has trained dogs to smell out many things, from bombs to hypoglycemia. But their noses are not able to do everything.
A team of researchers from the Gandia campus of the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, have created their own nose. They call the prototype the Moosy 32 eNose and intend to use the device to aid doctors in diagnosing Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which can be easily confused between each other.
No need for invasive testing
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are both inflammatory bowel diseases. The two chronic diseases have many similarities both to each other and to other diseases, but there are some important differences in how patients manage their symptoms.
Irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, anemia, salmonella infections, and even tuberculosis can be mistaken for Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, or vice versa, thanks to the commonality of symptoms. These diseases are really good at hiding, which is why better methods of detection than merely listing off the symptoms are important.
Until recently, the best methods of determining which specific disease you have was to use an invasive test, most often a biopsy. Biopsies involve taking a physical sample of flesh from inside the body, which can introduce complications and make life more difficult for the patient.
They also require a significant amount of time to perform, at least compared to this new electronic nose.
Moosy 32 eNose is different from the old and invasive tests. With this device, you do not need a physical sample. It instead detects certain volatile organic compounds produced by the natural metabolism of your body, which are what makes your feces smell.
Yes, Moosy smells your poop.
The smell of your feces is determined by many things. Diet is a large factor. So is your gut flora. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis also cause your body to produce unique volatile organic compounds.
As Pilar Nos, Head of the Digestive System Medicine Department at La Fe hospital in Valencia, Spain, explains, “The concentration of these components can be a differentiating marker between certain bowel diseases and their accurate detection by way of non-invasive devices such as the electronic nose would be a great step forward for the detection and monitoring of the evolution of these diseases.”
Developing the electronic nose
The Moosy 32 eNose was developed in Spain, through the efforts of multiple groups. Valencia’s regional government supplied the finances required to make the prototype. Previous parts of the project, such as the study as to whether or not you could detect the difference between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, was financed by Inbio. Inbio is a collaboration between the Polytechnic University of Valencia and La Fe hospital’s Health Investigation Institute.
Several other people worked alongside doctor Pilar Nos. They were professor José Pelegrí, from the Sensors and Magnetism section of the Gandia Campus Investigation Institute, doctor Belén Beltrán from the Health Investigation Institute at the La Fe hospital, nurse Lluís Torse, Enric Climent, Juan Talens, and Tomás Sogorb. The last three are all also from the Gandia Campus Investigation Institute, part of the Polytechnic University of Valencia.
Read on to learn more about this electronic nose and how it can help doctors.