Breath test could replace pinprick testing in diabetics

Friday, 14 June, 2019

Breath test could replace pinprick testing in diabetics

Monitoring blood levels with the prick of a finger could be replaced with just a breath, thanks to a ketone-monitoring device developed by a multidisciplinary group of health and engineering experts from the University of Sydney.

The device was created to allow people living with type 1 diabetes to better manage and detect incidences of ketoacidosis — a life-threatening medical emergency that occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin, causing the liver to produce high levels of ketones that damage the surrounding organs. As noted by research leader Professor Xiaoke Yi, “The breath ketone analyser will be a less invasive and far more accurate way for people with diabetes to monitor their health, by measuring blood ketone levels in the breath.

“The process will be as simple as roadside breath testing — just by measuring the concentration of acetone in a patient’s breath, blood ketone levels can be calculated.

“The device has been calibrated to a high sensitivity and is based on an innovative sensing technique that is not affected by alcohol or other gases.”

Professor Stephen Twigg, Stan Clark Chair in Diabetes at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, said breath ketone monitoring could potentially become the most common method of monitoring ketones. He noted, “Blood testing is invasive and relatively expensive. Getting real-time results from urine testing can be problematic. In contrast, this new device uses a person’s breath to measure ketone levels and is not invasive, and promises to be clinically accurate and less financially burdensome.

“Breath ketone monitoring potentially offers a safe, reliable and on-demand way of monitoring ketones in the body using portable technology.”

The device will also have the potential to monitor and assist several other diseases, such as liver disease, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.

Together with industrial partner AusMed Global and the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, the researchers recently unveiled the breath ketone analyser at the Hong Kong International Medical and Healthcare Fair. Following the fair, AusMed Global announced it would be officially moving its operations to Hong Kong Science Park, a precinct of high-technology enterprises that will fast-track the device’s development.

“AusMed Global is excited to partner with the University of Sydney in bringing this genuine, non-invasive ketone measurement innovation from the laboratory to the market,” said Christine Yip, CEO of AusMed Global.

“We look forward to providing a pain-free ketone monitoring experience to those suffering from debilitating diseases and life-limiting illness in the near future.”

Image credit: © Lobanov

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