Professor Roger Barker, University of Cambridge
Professor Hossam Haick, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
One in 500 people in the UK have Parkinson’s, which can leave people struggling to walk, speak and sleep, and has no cure. There are 127,000 people in the UK with the condition, and an estimated 7.5 million worldwide. The collaboration between Professor Barker and Professor Haick’s project aimed to develop an easy to use, rapid, cheap, accurate and non-invasive aid for the diagnosis of Parkinson’s and its treatment.
Current clinical assessment for Parkinson’s disease, particularly disease progression monitoring, is conducted using subjective clinician-based rating scales, observations and assessments with no objective biomarker that can be used to quantify the information. In this study, Professor Barker and Professor Haick aimed to evaluate the ability of the novel breath-test approach to look at disease state and the types of problems that patients have with Parkinson’s disease to varying degrees. In addition, they sought to investigate a point of care system that could potentially be used in a clinical setting. This involved collecting a breath sample in a bag and sending it off for remote analysis, technique termed as the offline method and can be used anywhere.
The project studied more than 214 people in the UK, using both the online and offline methods. The researchers found that they were able to correlate many different aspects of Parkinson’s disease to what they found in the breath, with up to 96% accuracy with some parameters. These results suggest that exhaled breath chemical biomarkers may be used to assess the stage of the disease.
The research teams continue to work to extend the capacity of the offline method, with the aim of providing a real, and globally available, solution to Parkinson disease patients in the near future.