Chris Mayhew - Applications of ion-molecule reactions to breath analysis: use for discovery and real-time measurements


Chris Mayhew is Professor of Molecular Physics at the University of Birmingham, UK, and Professor of Analytical Chemistry and Director of the Institute for Breath Research at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. Over a period of 30 years, he has established a unique suite of instrumentation used for the study of electron attachment and ion-molecule processes. His applied multidisciplinary research programmes include technological plasma physics and analytical chemistry using soft chemical ionisation techniques, with the latter predominantly focusing on Health Sciences (breath analysis), Atmospheric Chemistry, and Homeland Security. His research also addresses the many current challenges of applying soft chemical ionisation mass spectrometric techniques for breath analysis for the benefit of clinical non-invasive diagnosis procedures and for detecting hidden or entrapped people. This research is paving the way for the development of analytical techniques and instrumentation applied to the identification of a pattern of biomarkers specific to a given disease and to human presence.


Soft chemical ionization mass spectrometric techniques, which include proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry, selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry, and ion mobility spectrometry, employ ions as sensitive analytical probes for use in the identification, detection and monitoring of trace compounds in complex chemical surroundings. These techniques have opened up new and exciting possibilities for applied areas of research to identify trace volatiles in human breath, emitted from the skin and present in bodily fluids for diagnosing and monitoring diseases, monitoring treatments and examining health in general. The research being undertaken at the Institute for Breath Research in Dornbirn, Austria is addressing the many current challenges of applying soft chemical ionization mass spectrometry for the analysis of the human volatilome for the benefit of clinical non-invasive diagnostic procedures; including discovery programmes and real-time measurements. The main focus of the talk will be on our applications of proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry to breath analysis, but details on health sciences and search and rescue operations will also be included.

Join us at the next Breath Biopsy Conference




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