Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Metabolic 'breathalyzer' reveals early signs of disease

Date:
February 6, 2012
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
The future of disease diagnosis may lie in a “breathalyzer”-like technology currently under development.

The future of disease diagnosis may lie in a "breathalyzer"-like technology currently under development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

New research published online in February in the peer-reviewed journal Metabolism demonstrates a simple but sensitive method that can distinguish normal and disease-state glucose metabolism by a quick assay of blood or exhaled air.

Many diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and infections, alter the body's metabolism in distinctive ways. The new work shows that these biochemical changes can be detected much sooner than typical symptoms would appear -- even within a few hours -- offering hope of early disease detection and diagnosis.

"With this methodology, we have advanced methods for tracing metabolic pathways that are perturbed in disease," says senior author Fariba Assadi-Porter, a UW-Madison biochemist and scientist at the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility at Madison. "It's a cheaper, faster, and more sensitive method of diagnosis."

The researchers studied mice with metabolic symptoms similar to those seen in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine disorder that can cause a wide range of symptoms including infertility, ovarian cysts, and metabolic dysfunction. PCOS affects approximately 1 in 10 women but currently can only be diagnosed after puberty and by exclusion of all other likely diseases -- a time-consuming and frustrating process for patients and doctors alike.

"The goal is to find a better way of diagnosing these women early on, before puberty, when the disease can be controlled by medication or exercise and diet, and to prevent these women from getting metabolic syndromes like diabetes, obesity, and associated problems like heart disease," Assadi-Porter says.

The researchers were able to detect distinct metabolic changes in the mice by measuring the isotopic signatures of carbon-containing metabolic byproducts in the blood or breath. They injected glucose containing a single atom of the heavier isotope carbon-13 to trace which metabolic pathways were most active in the sick or healthy mice. Within minutes, they could measure changes in the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-13 in the carbon dioxide exhaled by the mice, says co-author Warren Porter, a UW-Madison professor of zoology.

One advantage of the approach is that it surveys the workings of the entire body with a single measure. In addition to simplifying diagnosis, it could also provide rapid feedback about the effectiveness of treatments.

"The pattern of these ratios in blood or breath is different for different diseases -- for example cancer, diabetes, or obesity -- which makes this applicable to a wide range of diseases," explains Assadi-Porter.

The technology relies on the fact that the body uses different sources to produce energy under different conditions. "Your body changes its fuel source. When we're healthy we use the food that we eat," Porter says. "When we get sick, the immune system takes over the body and starts tearing apart proteins to make antibodies and use them as an energy source."

That shift from sugars to proteins engages different biochemical pathways in the body, resulting in distinct changes in the carbon isotopes that show up in exhaled carbon dioxide. If detected quickly, these changes may signal the earliest stages of disease.

The researchers found similar patterns using two independent assays -- nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy on blood serum and cavity ring-down spectroscopy on exhaled breath. The breath-based method is particularly exciting, they say, because it is non-invasive and even more sensitive than the blood-based assays.

In the mice, the techniques were sensitive enough to detect statistically significant differences between even very small populations of healthy and sick mice.

The current cavity ring-down spectroscopy analysis uses a machine about the size of a shoebox, but the researchers envision a small, hand-held "breathalyzer" that could easily be taken into rural or remote areas. They co-founded a company, Isomark, LLC, to develop the technology and its applications. They hope to explore the underlying biology of disease and better understand whether the distinctive biochemical changes they can observe are causative or side effects.

Funding for the new study came from the National Institutes of Health, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, Rodale Foundation, and the Farmers Advocating for Organics fund. The other co-authors are Julia Haviland, Marco Tonelli, and Dermot Haughey, all at UW-Madison.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. The original article was written by Jill Sakai. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Julia A. Haviland, Marco Tonelli, Dermot T. Haughey, Warren P. Porter, Fariba M. Assadi-Porter. Novel diagnostics of metabolic dysfunction detected in breath and plasma by selective isotope-assisted labeling. Metabolism, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.metabol.2011.12.010

Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Metabolic 'breathalyzer' reveals early signs of disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120206174213.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2012, February 6). Metabolic 'breathalyzer' reveals early signs of disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120206174213.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Metabolic 'breathalyzer' reveals early signs of disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120206174213.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins