July 31 (UPI) -- Researchers have developed a method to test the chemical composition of sweat to detect cystic fibrosis in screen-positive infants.
Cystic fibrosis, or CF, is an incurable genetic disease causing chronic lung infections and breathing difficulties in patients. The earlier CF is diagnosed the better the symptoms can be treated and managed.
Current tests for CF often give ambiguous results that do not accurately predict disease progression and many people are carriers of the CF gene but do not develop the disease.
The study, published July 31 in ACS Central Science, reveals a new type of sweat test developed to overcome any ambiguous results.
CF patients have a genetic mutation that causes mucus buildup and allows biofilms to form in their lungs, along with the accumulation of chloride ions that are excreted as a salty sweat.
Current testing methods use a sweat test for the diagnosis of CF, but the test does not give any staging or prognostic information and doesn't diagnose borderline cases.
Researchers analyzed the chemical composition of sweat from screen-positive infants including unaffected carriers and confirmed CF cases.
The study identified several previously unknown chemicals in sweat that were associated with babies who had CF in addition to chloride.
This new testing method could be used in cases where results are borderline or too close to call, and can also track progression of the disease.