Monday, February 18, 2008

A Step Closer to Breath Test For Diabetes

Earlier I wrote about dogs that can sniff out a low blood sugar.

Here's a related story about how lab instruments may be able to sniff out early diabetes, as well as liver disorders and certain cancers, from compounds in our breath.

Research To Develop A Breath Test For Cancer And Diabetes

Researchers at Swansea University in the UK are using various technologies (gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and thermal desorption) to analyze the concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breath.

Dr Masood Yousef, a senior research assistant at Swansea:
"Studies have shown that high concentrations of certain VOCs in breath can correlate with disease. For example, the odour of 'pear drops' esters and acetone in relation to diabetes, ammonia in relation to hepatitis, and dimethyl sulphide to cirrhosis. There are also certain compounds that seem to mark out particular types of cancer."
A breath test for diabetes and other conditions would be an inexpensive, safe, and convenient screening tool for early detection. Interventions could take place before a person presents with symptoms, improving long-term outlook. Let's hope researchers work out the details soon!