Drug use and diseases may soon be detected by a breath test.

Drug and disease tests, the world over, currently rely on blood or urine samples but researchers have now developed a breathalyser that can identify drugs from exhaled breath.

Published in the Journal of Breath Research, the study identified a method for drug testing by analysing various compounds in the breath.

Lead researcher, Göran Ljungkvist, said: “Exhaled breath contains particles carrying non-volatile substances. The main components, lipids and proteins, are derived from the respiratory tract lining fluid.

“The collection procedure is non-invasive, can be repeated within a short time span and is convenient. The small mass sampled is, however, an analytical challenge. Nevertheless, exhaled particles are a new and promising matrix for the analysis of biomarkers.

“We took breath samples from 13 subjects who were undergoing methadone management, to explore whether traces of the drug could be detected via their breath, rather than using invasive techniques that disturb the integrity of the subject.

“We also wanted to discover the best method for collecting methadone particles in the exhaled breath, so our study compared two different sampling methods — electret filtration, and impaction.

“Our results, and methods could have implications for the analysis of endogenous and exogeneous compounds in the exhaled breath as biomarkers of systemic and lung diseases, as well as in development of new approaches to study human exposure to airborne contamination.”



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