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Breath test offers hope for early detection of lung-bacteria growth in cystic fibrosis

Irvine, Calif. -- Breath-analysis testing may prove to be an effective, non-invasive method for detecting the damaging lung-bacteria growth seen in cystic fibrosis, which would allow for early stage treatments that can extend the health of people with this disease, UC Irvine researchers have found.

By using a chemical analysis method developed for air-pollution testing, UCI chemists and pediatricians have found that people with cystic fibrosis exhale higher concentrations of sulfur compounds from their lungs than do people who don't have the disease.

These sulfur compounds, called sulfides, are known to be produced by bacteria, and lung disease in cystic fibrosis is accompanied by bacterial infections that cause chronic damage. The researchers found that the worse the pulmonary function in the cystic fibrosis patient, the higher the sulfide concentration in the breath sample, suggesting an increased amount of bacterial growth in the lungs.

"Early detection and antibiotic therapy has been promoted as a means to delay chronic bacterial lung growth and prolong life, and breath analysis may be an effective first step toward treatment," said Dr. Dan Cooper, a pediatric pulmonologist at UCI Medical Center, who led the study with F. Sherwood Rowland, the Donald Bren Research Professor of Chemistry, and fellow chemistry professor Donald Blake. "In the long term, these findings on sulfide levels also might help uncover some of the underlying mechanisms of the disease."

Study results appear this week in the early online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease marked by an abnormally thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections. Although many lung bacteria are prevalent with the disease, in teens and adults, the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria appears as the most prevalent cystic fibrosis pathogen and is strongly associated with respir
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Contact: Tom Vasich
tmvasich@uci.edu
949-824-6455
University of California - Irvine
17-Oct-2005


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