July 15, 2011

Breathing to Detect Swine Flu

(Ivanhoe Newswire)--Swine flu may be able to be detected through a simple breath test. Researchers have been investigating an easy and non-invasive breath test that measures biomolecules that accumulate in response to the strain caused by H1N1 flu virus. This test could mean a future without vaccination shortages.

Those diagnosed with swine flu typically have a fever or high temperature and may also experience aching muscles, sore throat, or a dry cough. The symptoms are very similar to types of seasonal flu and most people recover within a week, even without special treatment. The most common treatment for the H1N1 virus thus far has been the vaccination.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic and Syft Technologies have been investigating the breath test in order to prevent unnecessary vaccinations and help prioritize those who needed it most. They enrolled 11 individuals for their study of which nine received the live attenuated H1N1 vaccine and were administered the breath test on each of the following seven days.

The results showed only a peak in one of the compounds examined in the study-isoprene. This compound showed an elevated level by the third day. Isoprene is produced within the body and is a major constituent of exhaled breath. Previous studies exhibit that the most severe symptoms of swine flu infection occur on the third day suggesting that is when an immune response is triggered within the body.

This recent study provides the first set of direct evidence of a potential way to diagnose H1N1 influenza using your breath. Researchers say that further work needs to be conducted in order to identify other compounds associated with an immune response that were only touched upon in this study.

An author of the study, Professor Raed Dweik, was quoted saying, "This study adds to the growing evidence for the utility of breath analysis in medical diagnostics. More work still needs to be done, however, to identify the specific compounds that change in response to the vaccine or the actual disease."

SOURCE: IOP Publishing Journal of Breath Research, July 14, 2011