Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

New research highlights relationship between scent and disease

TOKYO, Japan: Bad breath can be caused by any number of things, including an illness. When there is more to it than just an overload of onions and garlic, it can be difficult for practitioners to make an accurate diagnosis. For the first time, researchers in Japan have developed a highly sensitive gas imaging system (“sniff-cam”) that can detect low diagnostic levels of some disease biomarkers.

Building on previous versions of their sniff-cam that can detect volatile organic compounds (VOCs), scientists from Tokyo Medical and Dental University have recently developed a device that can detect compounds linked to illnesses such as diabetes, lung cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

Speaking to Dental Tribune International, lead researcher Prof. Kohji Mitsubayashi said they had developed three types of gas imaging systems and that the latest version uses an ultraviolet (UV) ring light, UV filters and a camera.

Mitsubayashi explained how the UV ring light was placed in the vicinity of the charge-coupled device (CCD) lens for real-time gas imaging from the target object. An enzyme mesh is placed between the CCD and the target object. As the ring light irradiates the enzyme mesh, the CCD is able to take a gas image from the direction of the UV irradiation. The novel bio-fluorometric gas imaging system performs well, demonstrating real-time gas imaging, high sensitivity, gas selectivity and a short response time to the gaseous chemical coming from the target object.

To test the effectiveness of the sniff-cam, researchers worked with a group of male subjects who had not consumed food or drink for a certain period. The device detected miniscule levels of gaseous ethanol in their breath. According to Mitsubayashi, results show that the device can detect a broader range of VOC levels than other devices and may aid in the further study of the relationship between scent and disease.

The study, titled “Ultrasensitive sniff-cam for biofluorometric-imaging of breath ethanol caused by metabolism of intestinal flora”, was published online on 9 July 2019 in Analytical Chemistry, ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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DT Asia Pacific No. 4, 2019

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