Breath test finds TB, lung infections
It seems that minimally invasive diagnostic procedures are the wave of the future in medicine. Doctors from the University of Vermont are in the process of developing a breath test that can evaluate the amount of bacteria secreted in an exhaled breath, leading to much faster diagnoses of lung infections, including tuberculosis or infections associated with cystic fibrosis.
The test itself analyzes the "chemical fingerprint" of the subject, then uses a technique called secondary electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (SESI-MS). This technique can reportedly find traces of harmful compounds in even the smallest amounts, down to one part per trillion.
Currently, a diagnosis of a lung infection requires taking a sample, growing a colony of bacteria in a lab, then analyzing it – all of which can take days or weeks. The breath test would, ideally, take no more than a few minutes. Though the breath test was initially used on mice, researchers hope that results can be translated to humans in the near future.