Wednesday, September 28, 2005

E-nose You Know

It seems that scientists have developed an “electronic nose”, or “e-nose” to detect the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This is important because drug-resistant strains of the bug (MRSA) are an increasing public health problem. The e-nose is not exactly pocket-sized, being the size of two desktop pc’s, and it’s not cheap (yours for £60,000!), but it is quick (15 minutes). The device can’t yet distinguish between ordinary Staph aureus and its drug-resistant variant, but it is a useful screening test for infection with the bacterium.

I note that the food industry uses similar machines to root out rotten ingredients. With the well recognised tendency for these electronic gadgets to get smaller and cheaper, I wonder if parents could eventually use an e-nose to detect hidden malodorous socks, forgotten half-eaten pot noodles, and other detritus in their teenagers’ bedrooms?