News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Northeast Ohio Medical University

Lehmans

Knight Foundation


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Health and Medicine




Exploradio: Breath tests reveal the body's inner chemistry
Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic are refining techniques to test the breath for subtle signs of disease
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
The breath of Zephyrus carries the west wind, but human breath reveals the inner workings of our cells. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic are using breath tests to diagnose the early stages of several diseases.
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Doctors in ancient times were taught to use their sense of smell to help diagnose ailments in patients.  A group of researchers in Cleveland are reviving the practice using electronic detectors more reliable than the human nose.

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair explores the growing role of breath tests in detecting disease.

 

Exploradio: Breath tests

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:26)


More than what the nose knows
The Cleveland Clinic’s Raed Dweik doesn’t like to admit it, but he’s a super-smeller. Dweik's not convinced his sensitive nose is a good thing, "… there’s so many bad smells around us it’s more of a curse than a blessing.”

Dweik acknowledges he can identify some diseases by smell.

He says, “if someone has a pseudomonas infection, or a staph infection, or a clostridium difficile infection, they have distinct smells.  I don’t like to admit that but I can smell them.”

Our breath, according to Dweik, also contains clues as to what’s going on in our body.  We breathe in oxygen, and breathe out carbon dioxide.  But in that exhale, our cells give off other chemicals too.

Taking the 'breathprint' of diseases 
Dweik wondered if his patients’ breath could tell him if there’s something wrong. But even with his experience, and super-smeller curse, Dweik says his nose is not the most reliable way to detect diseases, especially in their early stages. 

Using sensitive analytical tools in the lab, Dweik found that trace chemicals in the breath reveal distinct metabolic signatures of liver disease, heart disease, and kidney disease.  He measured the the composition of the volatile organic compounds in his patients' breath to find specific patterns, "what we call a ‘breathprint’, like a fingerprint for different diseases.”

He says researchers at the clinic are developing analytical techniques using the breath as a noninvasive diagnostic tool.

“We’ve come a long way from simply smelling, to detecting [disease] early when it’s not smellable by the average human nose.”


A breath sensor for lung cancer
Across campus one team is studying the breathprint of lung cancer and research coordinator Mary Beukemann is about to give me a breath test.

She asks me to breathe through a tube attached to metal box.  Inside an electronic nose samples my exhales.  It’s a colorimetric sensor whose 64 colored dots change when they come in contact with trace chemicals in my breath.  The dots form color patterns that are compared to cancer signatures.

Lead researcher and pulmonologist Peter Mazzone says the sensor needs to sample our deepest exhale.

Mazzone says, “the device is engineered to collect just the final portion of the breath where gas exchange occurs between the blood and our lungs.”

Mazzone and his team are gathering data from patients known to have lung cancer, and comparing their signatures with people at risk for the disease.  He says lung cancer is more than one disease, and it doesn’t show up the same in everyone.

He says, “there’s probably more than one breath signature and that requires large enough studies to determine which are the appropriate chemicals to look for in the patient you’re seeing in the clinic that day.”

Breath testing comes of age
Mazzone and his team are probably a couple of years away from a final version of the device.  Then begins the arduous and expensive process of FDA approval.  But Mazzone is committed to developing a diagnostic tool that can quickly detect early stages of various diseases noninvasively.

“Seeing patients with lung cancer all the time, it excites me that this could certainly help a whole lot of people.”

Dr. Raed Dweik is at the center of the Cleveland Clinic’s other breath test efforts, diagnosing liver, kidney, and several types of heart disease.  He’s also developing an at-home breath test for asthma. 

He says, “there’ll be a slew of tests coming up in the next three to five years of tests that will be applicable in clinical practice.”

Dweik says breath tests won’t replace x-rays, blood tests, and other diagnostic techniques, but they may soon be another tool in a clinician’s arsenal, with the promise of a painless, non-invasive look inside the chemical processes of the human body.

(Click image for larger view.)

Listener Comments:

iNSHALLAH ONE DAY YOU WILL ALL SUCCEED AND GET THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR THIS GREAT DISCOVERY


Posted by: nuha MUSLEH on December 8, 2013 9:12AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

The first big private gift comes in for the pro football HOF project
The HOF has needed a shot in the arm for many years and this project will go a long way to getting the attraction the attention it deserves (next: upgrad...

Environmental study nears completion in East Liverpool
Twenty years ago my twin sister and I protested the building and operation of the WTI facility citing several studies that indicated the risk of cancer due to ...

HOF's Canton expansion could take an island and make it a village
I live in the block from Broad St to the Hall of Fame and will be impacted by the expansion. I am in the process of selling my home and planned to long before i...

Cleveland redeploys police to replace rejected red-light traffic cameras
Periodic rotational enforcement without warning does NOT change behavior and the city officials know that. This is the basis of all officer-run enforcement trap...

New enrollment period offers more insurance options
The removal of federal funding for healthcare CO-OPs may limit the growth of the CO-OP movement. http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?p=6381

The family of Boardman vet killed in Vietnam receives his medals
My name is Mike Eisenbraun. I am Larry's brother. I was 14 years old when Larry was killed in Vietnam. He has been gone for 46 years but it seems like yester...

Cleveland seniors are creating new wealth -- and facing new challenges
Why is anyone surprised that we people over 65 are not retiring? If you have been paying attention, defined company funded pensions were phasing out in the eigh...

Ohio company cuts off a dairy supplier after allegations of animal abuse
these people should be held accountable for their actions. i would be more than pleased to see a year or more behind bars. i will NEVER eat anything that comes ...

Goodyear recruits thousands of vets
What a wonderful interview! Excellent reporting skills by a talented young reporter! I look forward to hearing more from Ms. Schley!

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University