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
Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research