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article imageCould a breath test replace the blood test?

By Tim Sandle     Apr 6, 2013 in Health
New research has shown that individuals can be identified by the unique chemical signatures in their breath, suggesting that exhalations could be used to scan for diseases or test people for drug abuse. Such tests could also replace blood and urine tests.
Following on from the Digital Journal's report that a breath test for obesity (or at least to see if people have a propensity for developing certain fat cells), comes news that an analysis of an individual's breath might reveal far more valuable information.
According to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, each individual has a unique “breathprint”, made up of chemicals called metabolites (these are compounds produced by chemical reactions in the body) in their exhaled breath.
For the study, BBC Science reports, a group of researchers led by Renato Zerobi of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, asked eleven people to blow into a chemical analysis device called a mass spectrometer. The device was able to break down the breath into its chemical components.
By having the eleven people breath into the device on and off over nine days, the researchers concluded that every volunteer had a chemical signature that was stable and specific enough to identify them.
The findings suggest that like blood and urine samples, breath samples are reflective of the body’s internal chemistry and could therefore be used for biomarkers of disease or test athletes for doping. Furthermore, according to The Australian, the technique, if modified as an 'electrospray', could be used to screen airport luggage or detect bacteria in meat.
More about Breath test, Blood test, Illness, Metabolism
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