C2D2 research 2b - Assessing risk factors for impending or existent chronic diseases using human breath: a novel, non-invasive analytical technique.

Project: Other projectOther internal award

Project Details

Layman's description

Human breath analysis provides a snapshot view of the blood/air equilibrium in the lungs. Components of human breath have been identified as useful diagnostics for a range of chronic human health issues, including diabetes, renal disease and cirrhosis. Furthermore hydrogen and methane generated through colonic fermentation may be indicative of bowel cancer or irritable bowel syndrome. Despite its broad utility human breath is a poorly utilized analytical tool for assessing human health. We have developed an analytical system that allows us to characterize >50 compounds at concentrations as low as 10 pptv through concentrating 1-3 L human breath samples. This system will be tested for its utility through assaying metabolites from recovering smokers and drinkers in collaboration with members of the Health Sciences Department.

Key findings


We have been able to quantify gaseous cotinine from the gas phase over pure crystals through direct injection, however concentrations are small enough that larger volumes and a more sensitive GC-MS was required to pursue the research. This equipment (a GC-MS-IRMS; worth ~£170k) was obtained through a NERC Strategic Equipment grant, and is intended for broad UK academic use. Over the past year the new equipment has been fitted with a large volume gas concentration trap and liquid injection autosampler. Currently these two injection methods are being retro-fitted so that either can be used for both short (<C8) and moderate (C6-C30) sized molecules can be analyzed with either method of injection. During this time we have worked towards an effective method of dopamaine extraction and analysis using liquid samples on the moderate column which has been successful for spiked tissue samples.


We have established a working collaboration with the Elliott lab working towards extraction of quantification of dopamine from fly brain tissues.




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Effective start/end date21/05/1331/03/14