Researchers have developed a device that can diagnose 17 diseases from a single breath

Source: Shutterstock / edrwardolive
Source: Shutterstock / edrwardolive

It turns out our breath could hold the key to our health — at least according to a team of researchers who have created a breathalyzer-type device which can diagnose up to 17 separate diseases using a single breath, Quartz reported on Wednesday.

The team of researchers, led by Hossam Haick of the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, reported in the journal ACS Nano they were able to use the breathalyzer to analyze the compounds patients breathe out when they exhale in order to screen them for diseases. 

The team collected breath samples from 1404 subjects, some of whom had one of the 17 diseases for which the device could screen and some of whom were healthy controls.

The breathalyzer could use the participants' breaths to identify the diseases, which included Crohn's disease, prostate cancer and multiple sclerosis, with up to 86% accuracy, researchers reported.

Using breath as a diagnostic tool isn't completely novel — as Quartz reported, doctors already use "sniff tests," based on breath, to help diagnose diseases like cystic fibrosis

But this new device could, as the researchers wrote, help pave the way for "easy-to-use, inexpensive" tools for giving patients personalized diagnoses — and all they would need to do is exhale.

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Anna Swartz

Anna is a staff writer for Mic covering breaking news. She can be reached at aswartz@mic.com.

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