Immunothrombosis, the formation of microscopic blood clots during inflammation, is a leading cause of morbidity among patients with sepsis or severe COVID-19. Thrombin, a key enzyme in this process, plays a significant role in the development of blood clots. However, there is currently no method for early detection of immunothrombosis in living organisms.

A team of investigators led by Dr. Ali Hafezi-Moghadam from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School has developed a groundbreaking technology to diagnose immunothrombosis by analyzing breath gas. Using hyperbranched polymeric nanoprobes, the researchers were able to measure thrombin activity by monitoring the release of volatile reporter molecules. In animals with immunothrombosis, the liberated reporters were exhaled through the lungs. Gas biopsies from the exhaled breath were analyzed using gas chromatography mass spectrometry, providing crucial information about intravascular thrombin activity.

This innovative approach to early diagnosis could significantly impact patient outcomes for individuals with sepsis or severe COVID-19. By detecting immunothrombosis at an early stage, interventions can be initiated to prevent organ failure. The real-time measurement of enzymatic activity throughout the body has the potential to improve personalized and precise treatments, ultimately saving lives.

The research findings pave the way for clinical translation of this technology and represent a major advancement in the field. Early detection of immunothrombosis through breath gas analysis could revolutionize the management of sepsis and severe COVID-19, providing crucial insights for more effective interventions.

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