Pneumonia breath test could be diagnostic game-changer: 5 things to know

Out of a collaboration between the University of Manchester (U.K.) Centre for Respiratory Medicine and Allergy and the Salford (U.K.) Royal National HealthService Foundation Trust comes a test that enables clinicians to make pneumonia diagnoses based only on a sample of a patient's breath.

Here are five things to know about the research.

1. Researchers found that chemically analyzing breath samples from patients in intensive care can reveal bacterial infections in the lower respiratory tracts of patients at risk of developing pneumonia.

2. Current methods of confirming the presence of infections involve laboratory tests of samples from deep within a patient's lungs, a process that can take days. The research shows that it is feasible to capture patients' breath chemicals on mechanical ventilators, with the potential to alert clinicians of a patient's infection status much more quickly.

3. Pneumonia is caused by microbes that can be treated with antibiotics but is difficult to detect and diagnose. In many cases, clinicians will treat at-risk patients with broad spectrum of antibiotics, which is both an inefficient use of resources and contributes to antibiotic resistance.

4. The proof-of-concept study has provided enough significant evidence that the program has expanded to involve a greater pool of patients.

5. The National Institute for Health Research Invention for Innovation has granted three years' worth of funding to the team to continue developing the project.



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