British scientists are working on a breath test that may detect early signs of cancer and other serious illnesses.
Using the newest technology, scientists are in the process of developing a paper strip that people could breathe on, where doctors would be able to determine if the patient is suffering from certain diseases.
Using chemicals and compounds present in a person’s breath, researchers are looking at ways to analyze this in order to spot conditions such as diabetes, cancer, hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver. They are checking out the possibilities of detecting the presence of airborne chemicals in a person’s breath.
Dr Masood Yousef , leader of the research, has said: “Studies have shown that high concentrations of certain volatile organic compounds in breath can correlate with disease. Different chemicals in an analysis of breath can make out particular types of cancer, diabetes, hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver.”
The scientists are exploring 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.
Dr. Yousef goes on to explain: “If unique markers for specific diseases can be recognised earlier than traditional techniques, then there is immense potential to revolutionise early disease diagnosis before any symptoms have developed, and without the need for invasive procedures. Breath samples are much easier to collect than blood and urine, for the patient as much as for the person collecting the sample. They can be collected anywhere by people with no medical training, and there are no associated biohazard risks. Overall, the procedure is likely to be much more cost effective than conventional methods, potentially saving a great deal of time and money.”
Currently no trials have been conducted yet, and researchers warn that it could be years before they get to that point.