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Fujitsu develops breath sensor device for early disease detection

21 Apr 2016

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A portable breath sensor that enables early detection of lifestyle diseases was developed by Fujitsu Laboratories. The sensor is capable of extraction and measurement of the concentration of only specified gas components, such as ammonia, that are included at low concentrations in people's breathe and are suggested to be correlated with lifestyle diseases. The sensor allows for the easy identification of molecules that previously can only be identified using large analysis instruments.

Focusing on the correlation thought to exist between ammonia and liver metabolism as well as between ammonia and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, which is a risk factor for stomach cancer, Fujitsu Laboratories applied the ammonia-adsorbing characteristic of copper (I) bromide films to successfully develop a sensor device that measures tiny amounts of ammonia in a person's breath at a sensitivity differential that is roughly 2,500 times that for other gases.

In addition, by applying this technology, Fujitsu Laboratories became the first in the world to succeed in an experiment that selectively detected nonanal, which is a candidate biomarker for lung cancer.

Fujitsu Laboratories will seek to increase the types of gases it can measure in order to create a sensor device that is as easy to use as a thermometer in screening for people who should undergo more detailed examinations for the early detection of lifestyle diseases.

Background

For the early detection of lifestyle diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer, universities and other research institutions in the medical field are conducting research on diagnostic methods using breath analysis to examine the gas components of a person's breath as an indicator of the condition of the person's body.

A person's breath includes tiny concentrations of gases that are closely associated with bodily functions and disease. Chemical substances in the blood evaporate in the lungs and are exhaled. For example, ammonia in a person's breath is said to be correlated both with liver metabolism and H. pylori infection, which is a risk factor for stomach cancer. In addition, nonanal is a candidate biomarker for lung cancer.

By using breath analysis to measure the concentrations of these gases, the objective is to detect specified substances that are effective in the early detection of lifestyle diseases, leading to improved lifestyle habits. This will also be less invasive than other methods that involve, for example, physical constraints or the collection of blood samples.



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