Now, breath test to diagnose H1N1 infection

Washington: A novel breath test has been investigated to help identify people infected with the H1N1 flu virus.

The test, which measures the immune response to the H1N1 flu virus, could help ease future vaccine shortages by identifying the people who have already been infected with the flu virus and avoiding unnecessary vaccinations.

The researchers, from Cleveland Clinic and Syft Technologies investigated the fast-acting, non-invasive breath test to measure biomolecules that accumulate in response to the H1N1 strain.

They enrolled 11 individuals in their study of which nine were given the live attenuated H1N1 vaccine and administered the breath test on each of the following seven days.

The breath test examined exhaled nitric oxide (NO) – a biomolecule whose production has previously been linked to influenza and viral infection and has been speculated to play a beneficial role in viral clearance.

The results showed a peak in NO levels in all subjects on the third day after vaccination. There were no significant differences in NO levels on any other day.

This study presents the first direct evidence of a potential test to diagnose H1N1 influenza using breath, a concept which has already been used to diagnose and monitor asthma, check for transplant organ rejection, and to detect lung cancer and alcohol intoxication.

The study was published in IOP Publishing’s Journal of Breath Research, 15 July 2011.


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