Health Care

Soon, Hand-Held ‘Breathalyser’ to Diagnose Diabetes

Soon, Hand-Held 'Breathalyser' to Diagnose Diabetes
Soon, Hand-Held ‘Breathalyser’ to Diagnose Diabetes
Oxford researchers have developed a new, portable breath analyser that could someday help doctors diagnose diabetes without painful pinpricks, needles or other unpleasant methods.

Many studies examining the hallmarks of diabetes in exhaled breath have shown that elevated levels of acetone are strongly linked to diabetes.

Detecting the concentrations of any given substance in breath in a simple way, however, is a major challenge.

Breath contains a complex mix of compounds, including water, carbon dioxide and methane, that can throw results off.

Mass spectrometry can do the job, but it is not very practical for point-of-care testing. Robert Peverall and colleagues wanted to fill that void.

Researchers from University of Oxford in the UK created a hand-held device with an adsorbent polymer that can trap acetone from exhaled breath, then release it into a cavity where a laser probes its concentration.

They tested the accuracy of the device on the breath of healthy subjects under different conditions, such as after overnight fasting or exercising, and compared results with mass spectrometry readings.

The measurements were a close match and covered a wide range of concentrations, including those that would suggest a patient has undiagnosed type-1 diabetes, or has problems controlling their blood glucose.

Adding to the practicality of the device, the researchers said it could be re-used many times.

The study appears in the ACS journal Analytical Chemistry.


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