Thursday, 3 November 2011

Diagnosis: Oi your Nicked!-MS Breathalyser

Diagnosis of MS currently relies on neuros spotting the clinical history helped by a few diagnostic tools such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and a lumbar puncture/spinal tap to analyze the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. REMEMBER TO WATCH THE VIDEO AND TAKE PART IN THE PROF G SURVEY ON LUMBAR PUNCTURES FOR TRIALS! New research aims to get rid of them and uses a simple breath test with a synthetic nose device to sniff out multiple sclerosis.




Following on from the concept that our four legged friends can sniff out a cancer for their master and the demonstration that dogs can be trained to identify a unique odour or ‘odour signature’ that was associated with cancer. It was speculated that volatile chemicals (fumes) in the blood may reach the lungs (which have a massive blood supply as it takes oxygen from the air into the blood). The Boffins came up with a small sensor device that can detect a few chemicals in the breath that was then designed into a breath test device to detect 'cancer signatures' for the diagnosis of cancer.Link

Now they attempt to make a dog's nose in a breathalyser
for MS as hitting the News and reported in:



Methods: A cross-reactive array of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and single wall carbon nanotube bilayers was designed for the detection of volatile organic compounds (tentatively, hexanal and 5-methyl-undecane) that identify the presence of disease in the exhaled breath of patients with multiple sclerosis. The sensors showed excellent discrimination between hexanal, 5-methyl-undecane, and other confounding volatile organic compounds.

Results: obtained from a clinical study consisting of 51 volunteers showed that the sensors could discriminate between multiple sclerosis and healthy states from exhaled breath samples with 85.3% sensitivity, 70.6% specificity, and 80.4% accuracy.

Claims: These results open new frontiers in the development of a fast, noninvasive, and inexpensive medical diagnostic tool for the detection and identification of multiple sclerosis. The results could serve also as a launching pad for the discrimination between different subphases or stages of multiple sclerosis as well as for the identification of multiple sclerosis patients who would respond well to immunotherapy.

It is hard to think how the brain disease can reflect whats comes out in the breath and proof will be in the pudding, especilly as a definative blood borne diagnostic biomarker or set of biomarkers has yet to be found . Never the less the technology to detect multiple markers at once is very interesting and it would be expected that you will need to look at balance of different things to get a signature. However, the device concept needs refining as it wrongly diagnosed 30% of samples, which would be a risk if you are then to prescribe drugs with side-effect risks and failed to find 15% of cases, which is not quite as good as neuros with an a bit of imaging and case notes

Whilst this study shows proof of principle, this is a concept that needs development.


CoI: Although the authors have a habit of declaring no conflicts of interest, the group have filed a number of patents (check them out a Esp@cenet.com. search term Haick) to protect the concept/device. The publication and publicy may no doubt aid the authors/Technion Research and Development Foundation to raise cash to develop, what is a product in development.


P.S. If you want to see what companies are up to, you often won't find it in the academic literature, but industry has to expose their interests when they file patents to protect their ideas. There is golddust to be found if your know how to mine it and have the interest.

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