WARF: P93081US

Passive Measurement of Isotopes to Monitor Health


Warren Porter, Isabel Treichel, Mark Cook

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a diagnostic method and system for measuring stable isotope ratios in breath to monitor health.
OVERVIEWSimple, non-invasive methods of monitoring health are needed. Previous studies have measured labeled carbon isotopes in breath to study metabolism and digestion, but the use of isotope ratios in the breath of non-isotopically enriched animals has not been fully explored.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a diagnostic method and system for measuring stable isotope ratios to analyze and monitor the health of biological systems and/or organisms, in particular humans and animals. They also developed a method to continuously control online computer operating systems for monitoring health, nutrition and food delivery for humans and animals.

Isotopic ratios of 13C:12C or 15N:14N in a subject (animal or human) can be compared with previous samples from the same subject or with a baseline relative sample. From this comparison it is possible to determine the relative health of the subject based on the knowledge that infection, cancer, diet deficiency, toxic chemical exposure, stress or impaired function of organ systems causes these ratios to shift from healthy status levels.

For diagnosis, a one-time sample of body fluids or products is used to determine differences in stable isotope ratios of selected molecules. This can provide a metabolic and health history over months based on the half life of the molecules analyzed. Any disease that induces catabolic state, such as AIDS, cancer, kidney or liver disease, nutritional deficiencies, or infections, appears to be detectable by this invention.

For continuous online analysis, this invention can monitor the health of an individual or a population, such as humans, animals or microorganisms in an enclosure. A sample of air from the subjects' enclosure can be analyzed via mass spectrometer. The analysis can be fed continuously to a computer which would monitor the current state of the subjects' health or nutritional state relative to a baseline. The computer could be programmed to provide a response (for example, an alarm or activation of a delivery device) when the subjects' ratios deviate from a desired setting.

  • Allows for a rapid, non-invasive determination of net catabolic processes of animals and humans experiencing altered organ function or a marked decrease in nutrient intake
  • Methods employed by the invention do not require isotope enrichment because they are based on the natural presence of the isotopes in diet and organism tissue.
For More Information About the Inventors
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Jeanine Burmania at or (608) 262-5733.
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