The Breath analysis study

This is Simon.

Simon

Nice guy. Ridiculously tall, crooked glasses, and bad hair. But nice guy.

He has trouble taking a photograph of himself, but he is very serious about research for Parkinson’s disease.

In addition to maintaining law and order here at SoPD HQ, he is also involved with the “BIRAX/Parkinson’s UK Breath analysis study”, which is a collaboration between Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) and Cambridge University (UK).

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This particular webpage has been set up to outline the project and keep readers up to date with how things are going (see the bottom of the page for those updates).

Team

The project is being led by Professor Hossam Haick (in Israel) and Professor Roger Barker (Department of Clinical Neuroscience, University of Cambridge), and it is funded by the British Research Council and Parkinson’s UK.

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It is a three year study focused on using the breath analysis technology invented and developed by Professor Haick’s group to collect multiple breath samples over time from 300 people with Parkinson’s disease and 100 healthy controls.

The aims of the study are:

  1. To validate the next generation breath test technology in determining people with Parkinson’s disease from people without the condition.

  2. Determine the potential of the breath test technology in stratifying people with Parkinson’s disease into disease subtypes, and then track disease progression within those groups overtime.

  3. Isolate chemical compounds from the breath samples and compare them with other biological samples collected from the same subjects (for example blood), in order to determine common features and patterns which may reveal new insights into the mechanisms underlying the condition.

  4. Investigate the chemical compounds in cell culture to assess their potential role in Parkinson’s disease.

The chemical compounds that the study is focused on are called “Volatile Organic Compounds” (or VOCs). These are organic chemicals that have a high vapour pressure at ordinary room temperature. They are numerous (there are thousands of them), varied, and ubiquitous. Most scents and odours are VOCs.

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Part of Simon’s job is to collect the breath samples and forward them to Haifa, where the amazing Dr. Orna Barash (she’s brilliant) extracts the samples and analysing them. Once specific compounds have been determined as being specific to the Parkinson’s disease population, Orna and Simon will plan cell culture experiments (to be conducted in Cambridge) that will investigate whether the compounds have any relevance to the neurodegenerative process underlying Parkinson’s disease. The hope is that this research will lead to the development of regenerative therapies for Parkinson’s disease.

This page has been set up to keep participants and the general public aware of the progress in the project. We will keep you post results here when they become available. If you live within the South East of England* and would like to take part in the study (we are particularly interested in newly diagnosed subjects and those who are not taking any treatment), please contact contact us.

*Unfortunately we have limited funds for travel expenses.

LATEST UPDATE – 23/5/2017

A quiet month for the study, but still recruiting (72 people now consented and sampled) and we are continuing to re-sample participants. We are hoping to increase the number of participant to 100 by the end of June to get back on track to achieving our ultimate goal of 300. Big milestones for big goals – let’s see if we can do it.

UPDATE – 20/04/2017:

We have now recruited 65 people to the study, including nine control subjects. Many of these subjects have already provided multiple samples of breath. Their samples have been anonymised and forwarded to Israel. We have also pulled all of the clinical data we have available on the subjects and we are using artificial intelligence computers in Israel to analyse all of these variables to determine if we can group people based on the chemicals in their breath and certain clinical data points (eg. age, handedness, genetic factors, cognitive scores, etc). To date, the data analysed is from a population too small to make any conclusions from.