NETANYA, Israel Hossam Haick, of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, has been awarded a grant worth 1.73 million euros (about $2.2 million) from the European Union for the development of an artificial olfactory system that can sniff out cancer.
According to ISERD, the Israeli administrator that assists industry, research institutes and Israeli researchers to submit research proposals to the EU, this is the largest grant received from the EU by an Israeli researcher.
In its initial stage, the electronic nose is intended to sniff out and diagnose lung cancer. "Realization of the research goal will enable creating an instrument based on nanometer-sized sensors that can diagnose different cancers. They can even determine at what stage the disease is using breath samples," said Haick. "The diagnosis can be carried out at a very early stage even before the tumor has begun to spread. Thus, treatment will be immediate and will destroy the disease at its inception."
The Marie Curie Action grant was awarded to Haick as part of EU efforts to encourage young scientists. Haick, aged 31, completed his Ph.D. at Technion. He recently returned to the institute as a senior lecturer after post-doctorate studies at the California Institute of Technology.
"In our research, we already showed that, using nanosensors, it is possible to differentiate between a healthy human being and one with cancer," said Haick. "The challenge now before us is to distinguish between the various types of cancer and the diseases' stages."
Haickís research at Technion and work at Caltech were on electronic instruments based on nanomaterials and nanometer-scale sensors. At Caltech, scientists are engaged, among other things, in the development of electronic noses for NASA spacecraft. With the grant that he received, plus the additional funds he received from the Technion through the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute, Haick intends to set up a laboratory and recruit some dozen researchers from Israel and abroad.