Cody Pickens for Bloomberg Busin

The Cancer Sniffing Machine

  1. Inhale, Exhale
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    Inhale, Exhale

    The problem with cancer-detecting dogs is that, well, they’re dogs. Hospitals haven’t embraced the idea of a diagnostic tool that poops, barks, and requires feeding. With such concerns in mind, technology startups have hustled to build digital devices that can mimic the dogs’ olfactory sense and reduce the need for biopsies and CAT scans. Metabolomx, a 12-person outfit in Mountain View, Calif., now appears on the fast track—insofar as such a thing exists in the heavily regulated medical field—to bringing a cancer-sniffing device to market.

    Senior Scientist Dr. Nuria Queralto using the Metabolomx Breath Analysis Instrument. The machine requires patients to breathe in and out for four minutes.

    Cody Pickens for Bloomberg Busin
  2. Telltale Images
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    Telltale Images

    The chemical sensor formulations in the nano printer.

    Cody Pickens for Bloomberg Busin
  3. Crucial Fluids
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    Crucial Fluids

    Formulations of the chemical sensors in micro-centrifuge tubes (both left and right in the image). Each formulation is unique and corresponds to one of the spots (indicators) in a sensor array (not depicted because it is the size of a postage stamp) that detects lung cancer.

    Cody Pickens for Bloomberg Busin
  4. Loading Up
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    Loading Up

    The disposable lung cancer sensor module is inserted into the breath analysis instrument.

    Cody Pickens for Bloomberg Busin
  5. Disposable Technology
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    Disposable Technology

    Each lung cancer sensor module is disposable.

    Cody Pickens for Bloomberg Busin
  6. The Nano Printer
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    The Nano Printer

    Chief Scientist Dr. Sung Lim loading the nano printer. The nano printer is used to create the sensor that detects lung cancer. Nano printers like this one are also used in DNA sensors.

    Cody Pickens for Bloomberg Busin
  7. Reading Biomarkers
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    Reading Biomarkers

    A laboratory bench experiment confirming the sensor detection of lung cancer biomarker analytes at specific concentrations. The biomarker analyte is created in volatile form in a bubbler (the jar) and the concentration is set with mass flow controllers. The set concentration of the lung cancer biomarker is then presented to the sensor.

    Cody Pickens for Bloomberg Busin