Novel breath sensor detects Type-1 diabetes instantly
Scientists have developed and successfully tested a sensor that can instantly tell whether someone has Type-I diabetes.
It could also be used by emergency room doctors to determine whether a patient has developed diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially serious complication that occurs when diabetics do not take enough insulin.
In the future, the technology may also be used by diabetics, in their own homes, to determine whether they need more insulin.
Sotiris E. Pratsinis, professor and colleagues at ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), explain that everyone has a little bit of acetone in their breath.
But people with Type I diabetes release unusually high levels of acetone during exhalation. If they have diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous buildup of acetone in the blood, they exhale even-larger amounts of the chemical.
Pratsinis' team built an extremely sensitive acetone detector. The device acts like an electrical resistor. When it gets hit with a puff of acetone-filled air, its resistance drops, allowing more electricity to pass between the electrodes.
Electrical resistance is a measure of the degree to which an object opposes an electric current through it.
If a diabetic were to breathe on the sensor, its resistance would suddenly drop. When a healthy person exhales onto the device, its resistance will not change very much.
Pratsinis' team found this new sensor can detect acetone in extremely moist air, an attribute that is critical for any breath test, said an American Chemical Society (ACS) release.
It is sensitive enough to detect acetone at 20 parts per billion, a concentration that is 90 times lower than the level at which it can be found in the breath of diabetic patients.