Addressing antibiotic resistance: breath analysis aims to reduce unnecessary prescriptions

Pilot study lays the groundwork for future non-invasive diagnosis of bacterial infections.

The overuse of antibiotics gives harmful bacteria the opportunity to evolve into drug resistant strains that threaten health care. To help tackle the problem, scientists in China have begun a pilot study examining biomarkers exhaled by patients. The team’s goal is to develop an efficient (fast, accurate, painless and affordable) test that will assist doctors in prescribing antibiotics only when the treatment is absolutely necessary.

Reporting their first results in Journal of Breath Research, the researchers based at Zhejiang University have used benchtop analytical methods as a stepping stone towards developing future diagnostic tools.

The group is focusing its initial work on ventilator-associated pneumonia patients in the intensive care unit. Here it is critically important to differentiate between life-threatening bacterial infection and common colonization to avoid prescribing antibiotics unnecessarily.

“To confirm whether patients have a bacterial infection of the respiratory tract, doctors currently have to take a number of different samples (blood and sputum), and even chest x-rays in the case of pneumonia,” explained Kejing Ying, who is coordinating the work and is based at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine.

Breathe in, breathe out
Analysing samples from 60 volunteers, the scientists have found a potentially useful link between the presence of exhaled acinetobacter baumannii derived volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and patients diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia.

“The challenge we face is that many VOCs are not unique to one pathogen,” added Ying who is working with colleagues at Zhejiang University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Ultimately, the team hopes that its research will lead to an approved non-invasive test to provide early warning of bacterial infection in the lower respiratory tract.

[Ends]

Notes to Editors

Contact
For further information, including the paper, author contact details or image, please contact:
Alison Hadley, Senior PR Officer, IOP Publishing
Tel 0117 930 1032
Email [email protected]

Philippa Skett, Media Officer, Institute of Physics
Tel 0207 470 4829
Email [email protected]

For more information on how to use the embargoed material above, please refer to IOP Publishing’s embargo policy (http://ioppublishing.org/news/journalist-area/embargo-policy/).

Paper
The published version of the paper “Breath analysis for noninvasively differentiating Acinetobacter baumannii ventilator-associated pneumonia from its respiratory tract colonization of ventilated patients” (J Gao et al 2016 J. Breath Res. 10 027102) will be freely available online Wednesday 8 June. It will be available at http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1752-7155/10/2/027102. DOI: 10.1088/1752-7155/10/2/027102.

Research team: Jianping Gao, Yingchang Zou, Yonggang Wang, Feng Wang, Lang Lang, Ping Wang, Yong Zhou and Kejing Ying.

Image
Photograph of Kejing Ying, Zhejiang University, available on request.

About Journal of Breath Research
Journal of Breath Research is dedicated to all aspects of breath science, with the major focus on analysis of exhaled breath in physiology and medicine, and the diagnosis and treatment of breath odours. Go to iopscience.org/jbr (the link below).

About IOP Publishing
IOP Publishing provides publications through which leading-edge scientific research is distributed worldwide. IOP Publishing is central to the Institute of Physics, a not-for-profit society. Any financial surplus earned by IOP Publishing goes to support science through the activities of the Institute. Go to ioppublishing.org (the link below) or follow us @IOPPublishing.

About the Institute of Physics
The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application. We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications. Visit us at www.iop.org (the link below). Follow IOP on Twitter via @PhysicsNews.

Published: 07 Jun 2016

Institution:

Contact details:

Temple Circus, Temple Way, Bristol, BS1 6HG

+44 (0)117 929 7481
Country: 
Journal:
News topics: 
Content type: 
Collaborator: 
Websites: 

http://iopscience.iop.org/journal/1752-7163;jsessionid=48BCD6E5C0509A490... Journal of Breath Research website http://ioppublishing.org/ IOP Publishing website http://www.iop.org/ The Institute of Physics website