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Chemical warfare agent detection technology used to treat lung disease

A new technique based on the same technology used to detect chemical warfare agents and explosives is being employed by scientists at The University of Manchester to treat hospital patients with lung disease.

Dr Paul Thomas and a team of researchers are using a sensor, commonly used to detect explosives at airports, to develop a new way of diagnosing lung disease.

The microDMxTM sensor, developed by Sionex Corporation, is being used to develop a new technique which is able to detect 'unhealthy' molecules present in the breath of a patient.

The technology is currently being tested at Wythenshawe Hospital's North West Lung Research Centre (NWLRC). The aim is to produce a device which will enable doctors to monitor patients with lung or respiratory conditions by simply asking them to breathe into it.

The microDMxTM sensor is based on a Differential Mobility Spectrometer (DMS) and is a significant advance over the current Ion Mobility Spectrometer (IMS) systems which are currently deployed in airports to detect minute traces of explosives or drugs. The microDMx sensor is able to identify molecules that may be the cause of lung diseases such as cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by smoking.

Dr Paul Thomas from the University's School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, who is leading the research, said: "Our vision is that one day we will be able to detect a previously undetectable tumour metabolising inside a human lung simply by asking a patient to breathe into a device like this. For now our aim to use the microDMx sensor to develop better instruments which will improve patient care and treatment.

"The potential is such that we will not only be able to provide more accurate diagnosis, but we will also be able to tailor treatments to the individual. For instance, if a patient is taking steroids for asthma, we would be able determine whether they were b
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Source:University of Manchester


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