New sensor to detect Parkinson’s sooner?

People suffering from Parkinson’s are oftentimes diagnosed too late to avail right treatment options. However a new report published in the ACS Chemical Neuroscience claims that a new sensor has been tested to detect early-stage Parkinson’s from just the breath of patients.

A device developed by John P.M. Finberg, Hossam Haick and their colleagues detected differences in the exhaled breath of people already being treated for Parkinson’s and healthy controls, is now looking to be upgraded into a device that will look for differences in the breath of patients with early stage, not yet being treated Parkinson’s. The device has an array of 40 sensors based on gold nanoparticles or single-walled carbon nanotubes with each sensor attached to a different chemical that binds certain volatile molecules in the breath.

The device was tested on 29 newly diagnosed patients who were yet to begin any medication for the ailment.

When compared to sensor output of 19 control subjects of similar age, it was found that the array detected early Parkinson’s with 79% sensitivity, 81% accuracy and 84% specificity, better than a diagnostic smell test and was as good as an ultrasound scan of the brain.

The device will be enhanced and verified by larger studies and also has the potential to become a small, portable system to screen at-risk people which will not require trained professionals.


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