Scientists are reporting the development and successful tests in humans of a sensor array that can diagnose MS from exhaled breath, an advance that they describe as a landmark in the long search for a fast, inexpensive and non-invasive test for MS. Their report appears in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.
Hossam Haick and colleagues report have identified volatile organic compounds that can be associated with MS from exhaled breath. Based on these findings, the researchers developed a new sensor array that can diagnose MS by analyzing the determined chemical compounds that appear in the breath of people with MS. Using the developed sensors, the researchers carried out a proof-of-concept clinical study on 34 people with MS and 17 healthy volunteers and found that the developed sensors are just as accurate as a spinal tap but without the pain or the risk of side effects.
"The results presented here open new frontiers in the development of fast, noninvasive and inexpensive medical diagnosis tools for detection of chronic neurological diseases," the scientists stated. "The results could serve as a launching pad for the discrimination between different subphases of stages of multiple sclerosis as well as for the identification of multiple sclerosis patients who would respond well to immunotherapy."
A large clinical study with the reported sensors is underway and will be reported in the future. Haick is a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.