Medical Breathalyzer Tracks Disease

Breakthrough technique uses lasers to test for biomarkers of illness
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2008 2:19 PM CST
Medical Breathalyzer Tracks Disease
The process, known as optical frequency comb spectroscopy, involves analyzing the contents of the patient's breath with a laser, informing the doctor's diagnosis.   (

Diagnosing diseases such as asthma and cancer may become quicker and easier thanks to a new device that analyzes a patient's breath. By shooting lasers as the gas molecules in a person's breath, doctors will be able to analyze the composition of the gas and search for biological markers of disease, reports the Rocky Mountain News.

Levels of certain compounds can indicate diseases and conditions; for instance, analysis detected five times the normal level of carbon monoxide in the breath of a smoker. "The new technique has the potential to be low-cost, rapid and reliable, and is sensitive enough to detect a much wider array of biomarkers all at once for a diverse set of diseases," the lead researcher tells the Boulder Daily Camera. (Read more breath stories.)

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