At Owlstone Medical, we believe that breath analysis has the potential to revolutionize how research into the microbiome is conducted. Gut microbiome research is one area that stands to benefit substantially from breath analysis, since current analytical methods, namely stool testing, cannot provide real-time insights due to the variability in whole gut transit time (10-73 hours). The intersection of breath analysis and the gut microbiome is a fascinating and novel field, so we are excited to see the publication of a new article in Microbiome Times, ‘Exhaled breath can reveal crucial insight into the microbiome’, authored by our Scientific Content Writer, Dr. Madeleine Ball.
Traditionally, bodily fluids and waste products have been collected to gain insight into microbial activity in the gut, alongside endoscopic procedures to examine the health of the digestive system. However, these methods have their drawbacks, most notably their invasive nature which may act as a barrier to patients seeking medical treatment, and participation in clinical trials. Long underutilized, breath testing offers an alternative, non-invasive solution to research the involvement of the microbiome in health and disease. Breath is also a practically inexhaustible resource and can be easily collected, stored, and analyzed to provide unique insights into the inner microbial workings of the gastrointestinal tract.
Dr. Ball’s article explores how volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by the gut microbiome can act as indicators of health conditions, including Crohn’s disease and liver disorders such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Identification of VOCs on the breath of individuals living with disease offers a novel means of identifying biomarkers of disease. In some cases, microbially derived breath-based VOCs could even provide insights into how individual patients might respond to pharmaceutical treatments, potentially leading to avoidance of low-efficacy drugs and improved treatment outcomes.
The interplay between microbes and humans is complex, multifactorial, and often hard to unravel, even with the technological advances of recent years. The exploration of exhaled VOCs provides new perspectives on host-microbe interactions, offering insights into how our microbial communities act to both support and undermine our health. You can read Dr. Ball’s article here.
We are the world leader in breath research and analysis, offering the innovative Breath Biopsy® OMNI® platform, and are excited to be involved in several pioneering research collaborations to explore the intricacies of the gut microbiome. If you are interested in exploring how breath analysis could enhance your microbiome research, get in touch with us today!