Cambridge researchers think breath test could detect Parkinson’s

Parkinson's UK

Parkinson's UK - Credit: Archant

A new study in Cambridge will determine if a simple breath test could help detect Parkinson’s.

Researchers at Cambridge University, with funding from Parkinson’s UK and the British Council, will study around 200 people and see if just by looking at their breath they can determine which have Parkinson’s.

The scientists have already shown in a smaller study of 57 people that breath alone could differentiate healthy people and those with the disease.

One in 500 people in Cambridge 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.

Breath tests have been used to diagnose cancer, with dogs even being able to sniff out the disease, but this is the first time scientists have looked at what someone’s breath could tell them about whether they have Parkinson’s.

Professor Roger Barker, who is leading the clinical side of the study, said: “We’re hoping it will not only improve diagnosis, but also that it will tell us more about how Parkinson’s develops and whether there are different types of Parkinson’s.”

Dr Arthur Roach, Director of Research and Development at Parkinson’s UK, which is part-funding the study, said: ”Weve been struggling for decades to find a definitive diagnostic test for Parkinson’s. Brain scans, blood tests and urine samples don’t tell a doctor definitively if someone has the condition, and as a result there is often doubt, and even error, in the diagnosis at early stages. A simple breath test could provide the answer we’re looking for.”