Gas imaging system visualizes, measures gases released through skin in real time

Feb. 3, 2020
The gas imaging system is driven by UV LEDs to simultaneously visualize and measure gases known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are released through the skin in real time.

Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU; Tokyo, Japan) have developed a novel gas imaging system driven by light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to simultaneously visualize and measure gases known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are released through the skin in real time.

VOCs that are released through the skin reflect the VOCs present in circulating blood. It is known that certain VOCssuch as ethanol, a component of alcoholic beveragesare significantly related to alcohol metabolism. Besides, it has been reported that VOCs would be associated with certain skin diseases, such as psoriasis. Although VOCs can already be commonly analyzed in laboratories using large and expensive systems, convenient, practical devices that provide accurate measurements for routine use in a clinical setting have been lacking. In addition, being able to see how gases are released through the skin over time has remained a challenge. 

"We wanted to develop a tool that makes it easy to monitor human health in a noninvasive way," says Prof. Kohji Mitsubayashi, corresponding author of the paper that describes the work. "Even dating back to ancient Greece, physicians knew that a patient's breath could offer clues to their ailments. And nowadays, everybody has heard of the breathalyzer. The problem with breath is that it is not suitable for long-term monitoring of VOCs. The skin, on the other hand, offers an easy way for the continuous monitoring of VOCs without putting extra burden on the individual." 

To achieve their goal, the researchers mounted a ring light consisted of an array of UV LEDs on a camera lens, which together enabled the real-time imaging of VOCs emanated from the skin surface. In a proof-of-principle experiment, the researchers aimed to detect ethanol in a subject who had consumed alcohol. Because the skin surface can be uneven, they used a so-called "2D Mako" to equalize the complex skin surface and to enable the accurate measurement of ethanol over time. To facilitate the detection of ethanol, the researchers drew on the same principle as the human body uses to get rid of ethanol by placing a mesh with an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) on the subject's skin via 2D Mako. Once gaseous ethanol hit this mesh, a byproduct of the enzymatic reaction, NADH was generated and emitted fluorescence, which was use in the gas imaging. 

"We were able to show a dynamic change in the concentration of ethanol over time after alcohol consumption," says postdoctoral research fellow and lead author of the study Kenta Iitani. "Our results indicate that metabolic monitoring and early disease screening can be achieved by measuring blood VOCs via transcutaneous gas release." 

Being able to reliably measure VOCs could help clinicians to evaluate how alcohol influences the skin and contributes to the development of skin disorders. Adaptation of this gas imaging system to other gases could further enable the study of other diseases by monitoring the release of VOCs. 

Full details of the work appear in the journal ACS Sensors.  

Source: Tokyo Medical and Dental University press release

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BioOptics World Editors

We edited the content of this article, which was contributed by outside sources, to fit our style and substance requirements. (Editor’s Note: BioOptics World has folded as a brand and is now part of Laser Focus World, effective in 2022.)

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