Dr Masood Yousef is a senior research assistant in the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating, which is housed within the University’s School of Engineering.
He is using GCMS-TD (gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and thermal desorption) technology to analyse the concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breath.
Dr Yousef said: “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.
“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.”
The system works by analysing all the component chemicals and compounds that make up a patient’s breath. The GCMS-TD creates a breath profile, which allows scientists to identify volatile organic compounds that may signify the presence of disease.
Diagnostic techniques based on exhaled breath are much less developed than traditional blood or urine analysis techniques, and are not widely utilised in clinical practice. Such techniques have also previously been seen as crude, subjective and unreliable.
However, due to improved analytical methodology, volatile marker-based diagnostics offers new potential in the rapid diagnosis and monitoring of illnesses.
Dr Yousef believes that the breath test will provide a more convenient and rapid method for diagnosing serious diseases than blood or urine analysis, and will require minimal medical intervention.
He said: “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 the NHS a great deal of time and money.”
It is hoped that the research will lead to the development of simple diagnostic tools such as test strips that give positive results for specific illness markers, thereby reducing the cost and level of expertise for diagnosis.
Dr Timothy Claypole, Director of the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating, said: “Swansea University is undoubtedly taking a lead in the use of GCMS-TD to identify unique biomarkers in breath profiles.
“The work that we are doing now could well lead to the use of breath tests in routine medical examinations, long before patients show any physical symptoms. Ultimately, this technology will save lives.”
The GCMS-TD equipment has been funded by a grant from the Welsh Assembly Government Knowledge Exploitation Fund. It was originally used to research the level of solvents and other VOCs inhaled by operators of printing machinery.
Bethan Evans | alfa
Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital
Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences
26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering