Breath test for Parkinson’s?

Using one to see into the other. Left: canister for breath sample. Right: basal ganglia, a region of the brain usually affected by Parkinson’s.

Scientists think that it may be possible to detect signs of Parkinson’s disease through a breath test.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is supporting a clinical study at Emory that will probe this idea. Neuro-immunologist Malu Tansey is working with Hygieia, a Georgia-based company that has developed technology for analyzing volatile organic compounds present in exhaled air.

From the MJFF’s blog:

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,” Tansey says.

If results indicate moving forward, Tansey says it will be important to compare the breath sample method against blood tests for inflammatory markers. Other reports on the breath test approach for Parkinson’s have been encouraging. Researchers from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology recently published their findings that a breath test can distinguish between people with Parkinson’s and healthy controls about 85 percent of the time. It could even distinguish between Parkinson’s and other “Parkinson’s plus” disorders that have similar symptoms.

Also working with Hygieia, Winship Cancer Institute researchers have been looking at breath tests as potential diagnostic tools for breast and lung cancer.


Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Neuro 1 Comment

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Quinn Eastman

Science Writer, Research Communications 404-727-7829 Office

One Response to Breath test for Parkinson’s?

  1. Gary Anderson

    We have a novel aerosol collector that uses CGT to collect nm sized aerosols. In the article you mention researchers at the Windship Cancer Institute using breath tests for diagnostic tools for breast and lung cancer.
    I would like to get in contact with your researchers…
    The U of Florida (Dr Wu) are providing the value of this technology – but would like to address your researchers as well.
    gary 4088359340

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