Researchers at the Swiss federal institute of technology in Zurich used a technique called mass spectrometry and discovered that like the case with fingerprints, we each have a unique set of molecules called “metabolites” that make our “breathprints” distinguishable:
“Our genomes are unique, our epigenomes are unique, our microbiomes are unique, so it is not surprising our breath metabolomes are also unique,” says Jeremy Nicholson from Imperial College London, who was not part of the team. “What is important is how they vary from individual to individual and how they differ in relation to development of disease or in response to therapy.”
Zenobi’s team can identify compounds in breath immediately, so our breathprint could be used to detect signature metabolites associated with disease, giving an instant diagnosis. In a preliminary study, Zenobi has shown that breath samples can reveal whether people have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
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