eNoses Ingenious!

Angie Szumlinski Studies

Rapid diagnosis is key to curtailing the COVID-19 pandemic. One path to such rapid diagnosis may rely on identifying volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by the infected body, or in other words, identifying the smell of the infection. Consistent with this rationale, dogs can use their nose to identify COVID-19 patients. Given the scale of the pandemic, however, animal deployment is a challenging solution. That said, electronic noses (eNoses) are machines aimed at mimicking animal noses and can be deployed anywhere.

SARS-CoV-2 infection is associated with a body-odor detectable by an eNose if the hypothesis is correct. In a study published in PLOS, a generic eNose was placed in-line at a drive-through testing station. Real-time detection of SARS-CoV-02 infection was significantly better than chance, for both symptomatic and asymptomatic participants. This implies that an optimized eNose may allow effective, real-time diagnosis, which would provide for extensive relief in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interesting! We have all heard the stories of support dogs sensing when their owner is about to experience an epileptic event, dogs who have “found” cancers in humans by the scent, etc. but now to think we could use fake noses to do the same thing is truly ingenious! Stay well, stay informed, and stay tuned!