Breath may help diagnose infection

March 21, 2005

BALTIMORE, MD - March 21, 2005 -- Researchers from Johns Hopkins University are developing a novel method of testing exhaled breath to detect infection rapidly after potential exposure to a biological warfare agent. They report their findings today at the 2005 ASM Biodefense Research Meeting.

"We want to have a tool that can help in the emergency room or first responders to triage on site so that people who are infected can get treatment first," says Joany Jackman, a researcher on the project. "It's not so hard to sample breath from many people very quickly as it is to draw blood."

When exposed to disease causing organisms, cells in the body release proteins, called cytokines, to help the immune cells identify and fight the infection. Jackman and her colleagues theorized that cytokines might work their way up through the tissue until eventually they would be exhaled through water vapor in the breath, and could be captured and identified.

"Old medical texts, in the days long before sophisticated diagnostics, would recommend that a doctor check a patient by checking his or her breath, so we knew there must be something to it," says Jackman.

In previous studies, Jackman and her colleagues exposed pigs to different infectious agents and collected breath samples, which they condensed and ran through a mass spectrometer to test for cytokines and other proteins. They were able to detect a strong surge in cytokines in exhaled breath in as little as an hour, long before any visible symptoms appeared.

"However for this technology to be an effective diagnostic, immune markers which appear as a result of exposure to agents should be absent in uninfected populations," says Jackman.

To determine whether the cytokine levels could be differentiated from a healthy population, Jackman and co-investigator Nate Boggs purchased exhaled breath samples from swine housed at a commercial pig farm and analyzed the condensates.

"In all animals, immune markers of infection were at or below the limit of detection, indicating that baseline levels of immune markers in uninfected and apparently healthy populations could be expected to be low or undetectable," says Boggs.

Now that they have shown the concept of exhaled breath diagnostics to be viable, the next step is to move into human testing. Having determined in earlier studies that the early responses of cells to infection vary based on infectious agent, they hope to create cytokine profiles that will help identify specific diseases. They are also working on redesigning the breath collector with an eye towards getting it approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
-end-


American Society for Microbiology

Related Proteins Articles from Brightsurf:

New understanding of how proteins operate
A ground-breaking discovery by Centenary Institute scientists has provided new understanding as to the nature of proteins and how they exist and operate in the human body.

Finding a handle to bag the right proteins
A method that lights up tags attached to selected proteins can help to purify the proteins from a mixed protein pool.

Designing vaccines from artificial proteins
EPFL scientists have developed a new computational approach to create artificial proteins, which showed promising results in vivo as functional vaccines.

New method to monitor Alzheimer's proteins
IBS-CINAP research team has reported a new method to identify the aggregation state of amyloid beta (Aβ) proteins in solution.

Composing new proteins with artificial intelligence
Scientists have long studied how to improve proteins or design new ones.

Hero proteins are here to save other proteins
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have discovered a new group of proteins, remarkable for their unusual shape and abilities to protect against protein clumps associated with neurodegenerative diseases in lab experiments.

Designer proteins
David Baker, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Washington to speak at the AAAS 2020 session, 'Synthetic Biology: Digital Design of Living Systems.' Prof.

Gone fishin' -- for proteins
Casting lines into human cells to snag proteins, a team of Montreal researchers has solved a 20-year-old mystery of cell biology.

Coupled proteins
Researchers from Heidelberg University and Sendai University in Japan used new biotechnological methods to study how human cells react to and further process external signals.

Understanding the power of honey through its proteins
Honey is a culinary staple that can be found in kitchens around the world.

Read More: Proteins News and Proteins Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.