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Waiting to Exhale: Detecting Parkinson's Disease through "Breath Fingerprints"

Waiting to Exhale: Detecting Parkinson's Disease through "Breath Fingerprints"

File under "science fiction becomes science": Research is now capable of detecting 17 diseases, including Parkinson's, from a single breath sample, according to this Science Alert article by Josh Hrala.

A team at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology found that "each of the 17 diseases that they searched produced a different 'breathprint' -- a different amount and combination of 13 different VOCs [volatile organic compounds] -- that could allow them to accurately pinpoint if a participant had one of these diseases," writes Hrala. The specific amounts and combinations of VOCs are called "breathprints." Just as our unique fingerprints reveal that we have been somewhere, breathprints can signify the presence of specific diseases.

As part of our ongoing search for validated biological markers of Parkinson's disease, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is funding a clinical trial led by a team at Emory University and Hygieia Sciences, LLC, to define a Parkinson's-specific breath fingerprint of underlying inflammatory and neurodegenerative processes.

By collecting and analyzing breath samples in 100 people (50 non-smoking early-stage PD patients and 50 age and sex-matched controls), the researchers hope to define a unique inflammatory PD-specific breath fingerprint that could be used to predict and monitor disease in combination with blood analyses of conventional or newly discovered biomarkers.

"We hypothesize that breath volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) fingerprinting can enable sensitive and specific measures of ongoing inflammation and other processes implicated in the development and/or progression of PD, and thus could represent an early detection tool," says co-principal investigator Malu Tansey, PhD, Associate Professor of Physiology at Emory University and an established investigator in the area of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration.

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