The promise and perils of exhaled breath for early diagnosis and precision medicine

My lead story for the latest issue of science and technology magazine Shaastra is on the potential of exhaled breath in the early detection of killer diseases and to aid precision medicine. You can access it here.

I interviewed researchers from India, China, Israel and the US and was amazed at how far the science has come. Yet, more ground still needs to be covered. From the Indian perspective, with the country’s high disease burden in both infectious disease and NCDs, and the chronic under-investment in diagnosis and healthcare, exhaled breath could be liberating and gamechanging for both patient and provider. As an individual, it was refreshing to think of a future outside of what I like to call the ‘prick-prod-pee-poo’ modality.

Even as the story was being written, the first breath-based screening tests for COVID-19 were being deployed in Asia and Europe. Whether they prove their worth in real world settings or not, these are likely to yield important learnings for researchers and companies. As Hari Pulakkat, Editor, Shaastra writes in his letter, “there is another compelling reason why we believe this story merits your attention. It illustrates the recent change in the Indian science and technology landscape. More and more Indian researchers now work on contemporary problems, and diagnosis using breath is a case in point.” You can read more on why the magazine chose to lead the issue with this story here.