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PTR-MS breath test shows potential for detecting liver disease

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have published results that suggest a non-invasive breath test for liver disease using an IONICON PTR-MS. Elevated levels of limonene in patients have been found to be indicative of a diseased liver.

Especially in the UK liver disease has risen sharply over the past few decades and is the third biggest cause of premature mortality. Patients do not often present with symptoms until the disease is advanced. Even then diagnosis is difficult and the symptoms are often general and can be mistaken for other pathologies.

Breath gas analysis is a non-invasive method to collect information on the state of an individual by monitoring the concentration of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in the exhaled breath, which are directly correlate to their concentrations in blood.

University of Birmingham's study

University of Birmingham’s study

Patients with a diseased liver showed very high levels of limonene, a flavour compound that is predominantly found in citrus fruits, in their breath – higher than in a healthy person, reports Raquel Fernandez del Rio, the lead author of the paper [1]. Limonene, which is metabolized by a healthy liver, is accumulated in patients with liver disease. This hypothesis is supported by further studies on a sub-group of those patients before and after liver transplantation. Once the transplanted liver starts to work, limonene is cleared from the body.

Real-Time Breath Analysis using IONICON's patented BET-med sampler coupled to a PTR-TOF 8000

Real-Time Breath Analysis using IONICON’s patented BET-med sampler and a PTR-TOFMS

In addition to its non-invasive character, breath analysis is particularly interesting, since it can be performed “online”: The exhaled breath is directly analysed with immediate results. For such real-time breath analysis, IONICON PTR-TOF instruments have become the reference method.

IONICON also provides an optimized inlet systems for PTR-MS (BET-med), for real-time breath analysis. Safety of patients has become an increasing focus, and even devices for non-invasive breath analysis have to comply with international regulations. The IONICON BET-med system has been certified for clinical use, which allows real-time breath analysis of patients.

Resources:

[1] Fernández del Río et al. Volatile biomarkers in breath associated with liver cirrhosis – comparisons pre- and post-liver transplant breath samples.
doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2015.07.027

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