Sunday, August 21, 2005

GC/MS breath test to detect organ rejection, disease

Following several years of clinical trials funded by federal grants, the Heartsbreath test of Menssana was approved in 2004 by the Food and Drug Administration to be used along with biopsies to determine if a donor heart is being rejected. If rejection is detected, anti-rejection drugs can be adjusted.

In addition, Michael Phillips, CEO of Menssana, said that his technology can determine the levels of each compound, being about a billion times more sensitive than police breathalyzer machines.

By taking samples from thousands of ill people, "We've identified a number of compounds that are the 'fingerprint' of a disease," Phillips said.

Because illnesses produce high amounts of free radicals, which oxidize cell membranes and release certain compounds, each disease has a unique "fingerprint," he said.

Part of Phillips' contribution has been developing the computer software to extract the fingerprint from a mass of data provided by two standard pieces of lab equipment that analyze the breath samples: a gas chromatograph and mass spectrometer.

The samples reveal a lot about an individual, said Renee Cataneo, a Menssana research associate. "I can tell if they were drinking the night before, or if they're hungry," she said. An empty stomach, it seems, gives higher readings of acetone.

[from USAToday, Aug. 21, 2005]


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