N.B. teenager helping make advancements in detecting Parkinson’s Disease through breath tests
MONCTON, N.B. -- A 14-year-old girl from Moncton, N.B. is helping shape the future of medical technology.
Celine Wu has been working with a breath analytics company to help determine if Parkinson's disease can be detected early through a breath sample.
Growing up, Celine Wu knew she wanted to be involved in science. Now, at the young age of 14, she’s spent the last few months interning at Picomole Inc. - a breath-analytics company that has been working on developing a machine that could test for diseases through a breath sample.
“I really like science because you’re always learning,” said Wu.
“I thought because it was summer it was a great time to get involved and get more experience.”
The Moncton-based company's efforts peaked Celine's interest after she saw how their company is trying to develop a machine that can test for lung cancer using a breath sample.
After reading about Picomole’s advancements, Wu began to wonder if their machine could be used to detect Parkinson's disease, through breath scent biomarkers.
Stephen Graham, CEO of Picomole’s, was impressed when he learned more about Wu and her interest in an internship.
“She was able to really effectively link those two. Her work has been at the level of the advanced degree of people we have working here so we’re very impressed with her work,” he said.
Graham said they usually work with university students every year. But this summer Celine took the initiative to work on a research project with Picomole.
“She did an exceptional job. This idea of looking at the volatile organic compounds that are associated with Parkinson’s and how that links to the smell,” Graham said.
While the company was trying to determine how breath tests could detect neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's, Celine played a vital role in researching how that could be made possible.
“If you’re healthy or if you have a disease, there will be certain things that you breathe out. So, when we are looking to analyze them we can see if they are in the normal patterns or disease-related," said Wu.
Wu says the scent-bio markers associated with Parkinson's disease, found in the breath, could be used as a non-invasive way to detect the disease, while in its early stages.
Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that affects a person's movement. Symptoms can progress gradually including tremors, difficulty walking and talking.