Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Breath test' shows promise for diagnosing fungal pneumonia

23.10.2014

Many different microbes can cause pneumonia, and treatment may be delayed or off target if doctors cannot tell which bug is the culprit. A novel approach—analyzing a patient's breath for key chemical compounds made by the infecting microbe—may help detect invasive aspergillosis, a fungal infection that is a leading cause of mortality in patients with compromised immune systems, according to a proof-of-concept study now online in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Currently difficult to diagnose, this type of fungal pneumonia often requires a lung biopsy for definitive identification. For debilitated patients with weakened immune systems, including organ or bone marrow transplant recipients and patients on chemotherapy, such an invasive procedure may be challenging. A non-invasive method that can also identify the type of fungus causing pneumonia could lead to earlier and more targeted treatment in these cases.

Sophia Koo, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and a team of researchers wondered if they could find a unique "chemical signature" in the breath of patients being evaluated for fungal pneumonia. In the lab, they identified several compounds, or metabolites, normally produced by Aspergillus fumigatus and other fungi that can cause pneumonia.

The researchers then analyzed breath samples from 64 patients with suspected cases of invasive aspergillosis and assessed whether it was possible to distinguish patients with this fungal pneumonia from patients who did not have this illness. Based on the identification of these fungal compounds in the breath samples, they identified patients with the fungal infection with high accuracy—94 percent sensitivity and 93 percent specificity. (In other words, the method was able to detect 94 percent of patients who actually had or likely had the disease, and misidentified as infected 7 percent of patients who were not actually infected.)

There were no adverse events related to the breath collection procedure, the authors reported. It was well-tolerated, including by patients who had difficulty breathing or required supplemental oxygen.

"Identification of the underlying microbial etiology remains elusive in most patients with pneumonia, even with invasive diagnostic measures," Dr. Koo said. "Our findings provide proof-of-concept that we can harness detection of species-specific metabolites to identify the precise microbial cause of pneumonia, which may guide appropriate treatment of these infections."

More research will be needed to validate the findings and refine the approach before it can be considered for clinical use, the authors noted. If supported by future research, the method also may have applications in other kinds of pneumonia. "We can likely also use this volatile metabolite profiling approach to identify other, more common causes of pneumonia," Dr. Koo said.

Fast Facts:

  • Invasive aspergillosis is a cause of fungal pneumonia that is difficult to diagnose, and it is a leading cause of mortality in immune-compromised patients.
  • Researchers were able to detect key compounds, or metabolites, produced by Aspergillus fungi in the breath of patients with fungal pneumonia.
  • Using this approach, researchers correctly distinguished patients with invasive aspergillosis from those who did not have the illness.

Clinical Infectious Diseases is a leading journal in the field of infectious disease with a broad international readership. The journal publishes articles on a variety of subjects of interest to practitioners and researchers. Topics range from clinical descriptions of infections, public health, microbiology, and immunology to the prevention of infection, the evaluation of current and novel treatments, and the promotion of optimal practices for diagnosis and treatment. The journal publishes original research, editorial commentaries, review articles, and practice guidelines and is among the most highly cited journals in the field of infectious diseases. Clinical Infectious Diseases is an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). Based in Arlington, Va., IDSA is a professional society representing nearly 10,000 physicians and scientists who specialize in infectious diseases. For more information, visit http://www.idsociety.org. Follow IDSA on Facebook and Twitter.

Jerica Pitts | Eurek Alert!

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Nanoparticles as a Solution against Antibiotic Resistance?
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>