Scientists Hot on the Trail of a Breath Test to Spot Cancer

Daily Mail (London), October 14, 2008 | Go to article overview

Scientists Hot on the Trail of a Breath Test to Spot Cancer


Byline: Daily Mail Reporter

A BREATH test that could pick up the early signs of cancer and other serious diseases is being developed by British scientists.

They are looking at ways to analyse all the chemicals and compounds present in a person's breath to spot signs of conditions such as diabetes, cancer, hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver.

Using the latest technology the team at Swansea University is trying to develop a paper strip on which patients could breathe, which would show doctors if they were suffering from a certain disease.

If successful, it could save thousands of lives because an early diagnosis tends to increase the chances of survival.

But no trials have yet been carried out, and the team warns that it could take years before the test reaches the NHS.

Research leader Dr Masood Yousef said he was looking at ways to detect the presence of 'volatile organic compounds' - airborne chemicals in the breath.

'Studies have shown that high concentrations of certain volatile organic compounds in breath can correlate with disease,' he added.

'Different chemicals in an analysis of breath can make out particular types of cancer, diabetes, hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver.' Diagnostic techniques based on exhaled breath are much less developed than the analysis of blood or urine because any compound is present in such small quantities that it is difficult to detect.

The scientists are looking at complex detection methods such as electronic recognition of gas particles, identifying individual particles by their different atomic weights and using heat to separate the particles from other compounds. …

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