Can your smartphone screen your breath to detect cancer? That could happen someday soon, if the Sniff-Phone project from Israel comes to fruition.

The Sniff-Phone is the latest low-cost nanotech diagnostic tool proposed by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Prof. Hossam Haick, developer of the Na-Nose breathalyzer technology now heading toward commercialization for detecting diseases including lung cancer.

The Sniff-Phone would link the same technology to a smartphone to provide non-invasive, fast and cheap disease detection. Embedded micro- and nano-sensors would “read” exhaled breath and then transfer the information through the attached mobile phone to an information-processing system for interpretation and assessment.

A research consortium headed by Haick recently received a €6 million ($6.8 million) European Commission grant to develop the product. The award-winning nanotechnologist said it will be “tinier and cheaper than disease-detection solutions currently, consume little power, and most importantly, it will enable immediate and early diagnosis that is both accurate and non-invasive. Early diagnosis can save lives, particularly in life-threatening diseases such as cancer.”

Consortium members include Siemens; universities and research institutes from Germany, Austria, Finland, Ireland and Latvia; and Israeli company NanoVation-GS Israel, a Technion spinoff headed by graduates of Haick’s laboratory that is focused on using nanotechnology to diagnose pneumonia in low-resource regions of the world.