Human breath contains hundreds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) created by various metabolic processes in the body. VOCs provide information about a person’s age, habits and diseases. The compounds can serve as biomarkers for clinical diagnosis and monitoring of diseases. Breathing analysis has great potential to become an important method for clinical diagnosis. It is non-invasive which means samples can be collected without the aid of surgical instruments.
Understanding the middle infrared range of the spectrum provides a basis for optical medical diagnostics, studying biology and organic chemistry processes, and searching for harmful environmental substances. Alexander Apolonsky, a member of the NSU Physics Department Laboratory for Functional Materials, together with colleagues from the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, published an article highlighting a method that uses Fourier-transform spectroscopy to identify trace gases such as methane, isoprene, aldehyde, carbon monoxide, and others.
Alexandra Tarasova, Head of the Laboratory for Functional Materials, described their results,
Diagnosis was previously hampered by a large amount of water in the samples. The new method reduces water concentration 2500 times and sample preparation and data collection takes about 25 minutes. This is clinically significant. Preliminary experiments with real breathing show that the concentrations of methane, acetone and isoprene remain unchanged during sample preparation.
Obtaining spectral data is a fast and cost effective way to diagnose. Among a group of 13 healthy volunteers, respiration spectroscopy demonstrated that each volunteer can be identified by a unique and stable set of parameters, called the “island of stability”. During the study, scientists identified several factors that influence leaving and returning to the island.