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Imagine inhaling a sensor that could monitor lung disease patients’ response to therapy, emitting a signal when they breathe out. Like a breathalyzer that recognizes alcohol, such a device could sniff out compounds released only by specific illnesses to gauge how well treatment is working.

Biomedical engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a synthetic biosensor using specialized nanoparticles to detect and then report the presence of molecules indicating bacterial pneumonia or the genetic disease alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. 


Leslie Chan, a senior postdoctoral fellow in Sangeeta Bhatia’s lab at MIT who is now headed for a faculty appointment at Georgia Tech, led a team that tested this device in mice, demonstrating a proof of principle they hope to bring to people. 

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