Home 5 Clinical Diagnostic Insider 5 Breath Test May Enable Rapid, Drug Toxicology Screening

Breath Test May Enable Rapid, Drug Toxicology Screening

by | Feb 20, 2015 | Clinical Diagnostic Insider, Diagnostic Testing and Emerging Technologies

A commercially available breath sampling device (SensAbues AB, Sweden) can effectively detect 12 illicit drugs in exhaled breath, according to a study published April 26 in the Journal of Breath Research. With an increasing focus on alternative specimens for noninvasive drug testing, the researchers say their findings may bring roadside drug testing closer to a reality. “Since exhaled breath may be as easy to collect as in alcohol breath testing it may present a new more accessible matrix than blood at the roadside and elsewhere when the sampling procedure is an obstacle,” write the authors, led by Olof Beck, an adjunct professor of analytical toxicology and pharmacology at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. In the future, Beck says, the test could be combined with alcohol breath tests. Breath, plasma, and urine samples were collected from 47 patients (38 males) undergoing recovery from acute intoxication in an emergency department. Collections occurred approximately 24 hours after last intake of drugs. The commercial breath device contained a mouthpiece and filter that traps larger particles and allows only microparticles to pass through. A chromatographic method was developed that allowed for the measurement of all analytes in the same run. Urine was screened using immunochemical […]

A commercially available breath sampling device (SensAbues AB, Sweden) can effectively detect 12 illicit drugs in exhaled breath, according to a study published April 26 in the Journal of Breath Research. With an increasing focus on alternative specimens for noninvasive drug testing, the researchers say their findings may bring roadside drug testing closer to a reality. “Since exhaled breath may be as easy to collect as in alcohol breath testing it may present a new more accessible matrix than blood at the roadside and elsewhere when the sampling procedure is an obstacle,” write the authors, led by Olof Beck, an adjunct professor of analytical toxicology and pharmacology at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. In the future, Beck says, the test could be combined with alcohol breath tests. Breath, plasma, and urine samples were collected from 47 patients (38 males) undergoing recovery from acute intoxication in an emergency department. Collections occurred approximately 24 hours after last intake of drugs. The commercial breath device contained a mouthpiece and filter that traps larger particles and allows only microparticles to pass through. A chromatographic method was developed that allowed for the measurement of all analytes in the same run. Urine was screened using immunochemical reagents and positive findings confirmed with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry methods. The 12 analytes investigated were all self-reported to have been used as was one self-reported substance, ketobemidone, that was not investigated. The researchers found that in 40 of 46 cases (87 percent) breath analysis identified one of the investigated substances. Seventy-nine of the self-reported recent intakes were supported by analytical findings in plasma or urine. Additional substances, other than those self-reported, were detected in 11 of 47 (23 percent) of cases. Aside from demonstrating “good agreement” between data collected from breath, plasma, urine, and self-report, this study provides an expanded evidence base of analytes detected in exhaled breath. Breath analysis was for the first time able to detect alprazolam and benzoylecgonine, whereas for methadone, amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine, morphine, 6-AM, tetrahydrocannabinol, buprenorphine, diazepam, and oxazepam, the results confirm previous observations. The detection rate for most investigated substances appears to be high, and higher than previously reported, with the exception of benzodiazepines. To achieve an acceptable detection rate, benzodiazepines may require increased analytical sensitivity, the researchers say, especially with oxazepam. But given the 24-hour lag between drug intake and sampling, the researchers characterize the overall detection rates as rather high and suspect breath detection rates will be even higher if sampling is done closer to intake. Beck tells DTTR that breath testing costs are comparable to oral fluid testing and are currently being offered routinely in select laboratories. He says that U.S. labs should “easily be able to pick this up.”

Subscribe to Clinical Diagnostics Insider to view

Start a Free Trial for immediate access to this article