Your bad breath could be more than just a result of what you had for lunch - and a 'sniff-cam' may be able to detect what's wrong

A new sniff-cam may be able to detect diseases
A new sniff-cam may be able to detect diseases

Halitosis, commonly referred to as bad breath is an unpleasant odour from the mouth caused by poor oral hygiene, eating certain foods or certain chronic medical conditions which include lung cancer, diabetes and Parkinson's disease.

Scientists have been trying to develop new ways to measure substances released in bad breath. It was, however, not always possible for them to detect lower levels of certain disease biomarkers. 

Medical practitioners would often use breath and body odour to diagnose patients, but analysis would never be truly accurate due to the fact that healthy people give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and these substances are dependent on factors such as sex and body mass.

A new, refined version

Scientists are thrilled to report that there is now a highly sensitive 'sniff-cam' which can overcome these issues.

According to the study, published in ACS' Analytical chemistry, researchers created a new, refined version of the sniff-cam, which is now able to detect diagnostic levels of disease biomarkers.

The new sniff-cam has an ultraviolet ring light, filters and a camera. The enzyme mesh reacts to ethanol with oxidized nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which produces a fluorescent reduced form of NAD, recorded by the camera. The new method of analysing images is more sensitive, and allows for low amounts of ethanol to be measured.

The new sniff-cam was tested on a group of males who had not eaten or consumed any liquids. The device detected very low levels of ethanol on their breath.

The results revealed that the sniff-cam is able to detect a broader range of VOC levels compared to previous devices, which could help with further studies involving the relationship between scents and diseases.

Image credit: iStock

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