BUFFALO, N.Y., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- A disease-detecting "breathalyzer" using sensors to identify illness biomarkers in the breath is on its way.
University of Buffalo researchers say they're working on a cost-effective device containing thousands of chemical sensors that can recognize complex chemical patterns -- known as gaseous metabolites -- in the human breath, some of which are known biomarkers for certain diseases.
Scientists have already linked certain biomarkers in the breath to conditions including diabetes, AIDS, lung cancer and mental illnesses, the researchers said.
"These volatile biomarkers are free for the asking and taking," said Frank Bright, professor at the University of Buffalo and lead investigator in the study.
"They emanate from us all of the time. They are large in volume, much safer to handle than biofluids and available through totally non-invasive means," he noted.
The investigational device borrows from the animal world by mimicking animals' ability to detect odors to identify offspring, owners, mates, prey or competitors, the researchers said.
Current methods of detecting these chemical biomarkers in human breath are expensive and cumbersome, they said.