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Noninvasive Disease Diagnosis through Breath Analysis Using DNA-Functionalized SWNT Sensor Array

Authors: Wenjun Zhang, Yunqing Du, Ming L. Wang


Noninvasive diagnostics of diseases via breath analysis has attracted considerable scientific and clinical interest for many years and become more and more promising with the rapid advancements in nanotechnology and biotechnology. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in exhaled breath, which are mainly blood borne, particularly provide highly valuable information about individuals’ physiological and pathophysiological conditions. Additionally, breath analysis is noninvasive, real-time, painless, and agreeable to patients. We have developed a wireless sensor array based on single-stranded DNA (ssDNA)-functionalized single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) for the detection of a number of physiological indicators in breath. Seven DNA sequences were used to functionalize SWNT sensors to detect trace amount of methanol, benzene, dimethyl sulfide, hydrogen sulfide, acetone, and ethanol, which are indicators of heavy smoking, excessive drinking, and diseases such as lung cancer, breast cancer, and diabetes. Our test results indicated that DNA functionalized SWNT sensors exhibit great selectivity, sensitivity, and repeatability; and different molecules can be distinguished through pattern recognition enabled by this sensor array. Furthermore, the experimental sensing results are consistent with the Molecular Dynamics simulated ssDNAmolecular target interaction rankings. Thus, the DNA-SWNT sensor array has great potential to be applied in chemical or biomolecular detection for the noninvasive diagnostics of diseases and personal health monitoring.

Keywords: Breath analysis, DNA-SWNT sensor array, diagnosis, noninvasive.

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