A Revolutionary Breath Test Replaces Blood Test in Athletes and People Seeking Weight Loss

Scientists from ETH Zurich, a STEM university in Zürich, Switzerland, have come up with a sensor attached with a breath analyzer for testing the condition of athletes and people seeking weight loss. When an individual blows into this sensor, just like the way police ask vehicle drivers to do in order to screen them for alcohol intoxication, it detects the time when body starts burning fat (lipolysis).

Those people seeking weight loss are advised to workout more and eat less. One way to burn excess body fat is endurance training. Currently, urine or blood test is used to determine the exact time when the body starts burning fat during this training. The currently developed breath analyzer facilitates the real-time monitoring of lipolysis by testing an individual’s exhalations during workouts. This highly convenient method can replace blood or urine test.

When your body starts burning fat, the by-products it generates enters the blood stream. These molecules, particularly the volatile ones, enter the individual’s air exhalations. The most volatile one among these is acetone.

The gas sensor detects and measures this molecule’s presence in the exhalations. This device is highly sensitive in that it can detect a single acetone molecule among hundred million molecules. Further, it exclusively measures acetone without being distracted by the presence of over 800 other known volatile components in exhalations.

The Working of The Sensor

The ETH researchers started working on this project seven years before when they found that acetone interacts with tungsten trioxide nanoparticles if the atoms of the nanoparticles are organized in a specific crystalline structure. So, they used a chip coated with a porous film of distinctive semiconducting nanoparticles in the device. These particles are tungsten trioxide which they embedded with single silicon atoms. The interaction decreases the electrical resistance of the nanoparticle-coated chip, and then the phenomenon is measured.

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