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Keywords:

  • bioelectronic nose;
  • diagnosis;
  • heptanal;
  • lung cancer;
  • nanovesicles

A human nose-mimetic diagnosis system that can distinguish the odor of a lung cancer biomarker, heptanal, from human blood is presented. Selective recognition of the biomarker is mimicked in the human olfactory system. A specific olfactory receptor recognizing the chemical biomarker is first selected through screening a library of human olfactory receptors (hORs). The selected hOR is expressed on the membrane of human embryonic kidney (HEK)-293 cells. Nanovesicles containing the hOR on the membrane are produced from these cells, and are then used for the functionalization of single-walled carbon nanotubes. This strategy allows the development of a sensitive and selective nanovesicle-based bioelectronic nose (NvBN). The NvBN is able to selectively detect heptanal at a concentration as low as 1 × 10−14 m, a sufficient level to distinguish the blood of a lung cancer patient from the blood of a healthy person. In actual experiments, NvBN could detect an extremely small increase in the amount of heptanal from human blood plasma without any pretreatment processes. This result offers a rapid and easy method to analyze chemical biomarkers from human blood in real-time and to diagnose lung cancer.