"It's the same concept, but about a billion times more sensitive," said inventor Michael Phillips, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY. Since December 2002, Menssana Research has been a tenant in the Enterprise Development Center, an incubator program at NJIT for young businesses.
A week ago, the Wall Street Journal named Menssana Research in its annual technology innovation awards as the second runner-up for kudos in the biotechnology and medical section. (EDITORS NOTE: To interview Phillips either in his lab or by telephone, contact Sheryl Weinstein at 973-596-3436.)
In a patented process, samples are imbedded in activated carbon, sealed in cigarette-sized steel cylinders and then mailed to the lab for analysis. Menssana has identified distinct patterns made by more than 200 different volatile organic compounds exhaled in every breath. Phillips has proved that these patterns vary with illness and can be used to diagnose a variety of diseases.
"It's more than folk medicine," said Phillips. "Diabetics' breath smells fruity because of acetones, patients in kidney failure have breath that smells like urine, and liver disease and lung infections also have distinctive odors." But Phillips' research has taken breath analysis way beyond the sniff test.
In February 2004, the federal Food and Drug Administration approved the marketing of Menssana's Heartsbreath test. The test determines whether patients with heart transplants are showing signs of rejecting the new heart. The FDA said the test might be used as an adjunct to biopsy. The Heartsbreath test costs $500, compar
Contact: Sheryl Weinstein
New Jersey Institute of Technology