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.

Wayside Furniture

Greater Akron Chamber

Hennes Paynter Communications


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

Ohio's attorney general rejectsthe latest proposal to legalize marijuana
i think the ag launguage is money hes talking about drug companies must pay him more than responsible ohio can

PBS documentary chronicles the fall of Saigon through new footage and stories
Hi, Does anyone know the number - in the pbs special "Last Days of Vietnam" documentary, of how many Vietnamese were evacuated? Please e-mail me the answer. T...

Protest planned at tomorrow's FirstEnergy meeting
The problems of the poor and downtrodden have nothing to do with First Energy. They are the result of Republican legislators who consistently reduce taxes on th...

Ohio bill would help smaller communities with LGBT discrimination laws
Do we not try and have rights for all individuals equally? On the HUD list of "preferred" candidates who get "special consideration" it states that: For purp...

Ohio likely will continue with two types of police academies
Wake up people your wanting a Harvard law school education for a job that may pay a little over the poverty level. I don't know anyone who could support a wife ...

Police Week's ties from NE Ohio to D.C.
The men and women in blue who risk their lives everyday to serve and protect us....and this is as much recognition and appreciation that NPR/WKSU feels to offer...

First in a Series: How charter schools got a foothold in Ohio
If the interest where in education and there would be oversight of taxpayer dollars, charter schools would be okay. However, Charter School in Ohio are purely f...

Near West Theater raises the curtain at its new home with 'Shrek the Musical'
When I heard you were doing an article about the Near West Theater, I was very excited, because I had seen the lobby artwork in process on the floor of the arti...

Northeast Ohio pastors want to talk reform with Akron-based FirstEnergy
It's great that this First Energy bailout request is getting media coverage. First Energy is asking to be allowed to NOT find the best costing energy to sell us...

Copyright © 2015 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