Engineers and physicians at the University of California, Davis have developed a breath test to detect possible opioid use.
Here’s how it works: subjects of the test breathe normally into a specialized collection device, generating droplets in the breaths that condense and are then stored in a freezer until the testing is completed.
Researchers at the university developed the technique among a small group of patients receiving infusions of pain medications including morphine and hydromorphone, or oral doses of oxycodone, enabling them to compare opioid metabolites with both blood samples and the doses given to patients.
“We can see both the original drug and metabolites in exhaled breath,” said Professor Cristina Davis, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis.
Davis said there “are a few ways we think this could impact society,” one of which is the ability to detect illegal drug use. Another way could be enabling doctors to make sure patients are taking their drugs correctly.
“We’ve developed a sampler that is appropriate in the best way to collect the exhaled breath to detect the opioids, which are present at really small concentrations inside the breath,” Davis told the Sacramento Bee. “We right