Based on the findings of a recently published study, U.S. researchers believe that a simple breath test could reduce the time needed for diagnosis of lung diseases such as tuberculosis significantly. It could also be applied in the dental setting, they said.

Conventionally, diagnosis of lung infections requires the collection of a sample that is used to grow bacterial colonies, which can be tested biochemically. “This whole process can take days for some common bacteria and even weeks for the causative agent for tuberculosis. Breath analysis would reduce the time to diagnose to just minutes,” said Dr. Jane Hill, co-author of the study and assistant professor at the University of Vermont.

The researchers used secondary electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (SESI-MS) to test for Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, two causative agents of acute and chronic lung infections. SESI-MS is a method developed for the rapid detection of volatile organic compounds, biomarkers produced by bacteria and present in exhaled breath of the mice, without the need for sample pretreatment.

They found significant differences between the breath profiles of infected mice compared with control mice. They were able to distinguish between different types of bacteria and even different strains of the same bacteria.

“We have done some work in humans not infected with any pathogen already,” Hill told Dental Tribune ONLINE. “We have a number of upcoming studies that are focused on breath from patients infected acutely with the standard pathogens, as well as a study on patients with chronic infection and primarily those with cystic fibrosis,” she said.

To date, large instruments have been used to detect these biomarkers in breath but there are miniature devices being developed for use in clinical settings, she added.

With regard to using the test in dentistry, Hill said that there are undoubtedly a number of applications, with malodor being one of the most obvious, as it is both an aesthetic issue and often indicative of an underlying pathology.

The study was published online on Jan. 10 in the Journal of Dental Research ahead of print.

Original Source: The Dental