The objectives of the project are:

a)Analysis of the exhaled ethylene from patients treated by anti-tumour radiotherapy

The first objective is to measure the exhaled ethylene from patients receiving radiation treatment and compare the results with healthy subjects in order to correlate the ethylene concentrations with the level of oxidative stress. Ethylene is well suited for the estimation of cellular damage, because this species is excreted in breath within minutes of its formation in tissues.
Radiation therapy uses ionizing radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. When considering ionizing radiations, a substantial part of the total interactions concerns water molecules, water being the major component of living tissue present in all biological systems. Consequently, mainly water ions and radicals are generated inside tissues as primary reactive species. Those reactive species (free radicals) then interact with biomolecules and damage them (indirect effect of radiation); in particular, they can start lipid peroxidation (LP) events on cell membranes. The ethylene produced as an effect of radiation-induced LP, in fact the process of free-radical-induced oxidative degradation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, diffuses through tissues inside the body, then it is collected by the haematic flow in the blood vessels, and transported to the lungs. The membranes separating the air in the lungs from the blood in the capillaries are very thin and are optimized for gas transport, so ethylene is easily emitted in exhaled breath. If the increase in the breath ethylene could be put in relation to the extent of LP events, then the monitoring of exhaled ethylene could be a simple method to follow up the increase of radiation damage in an organism.

b) Analysis of exhaled ammonia and exhaled ethylene from patients treated by haemodialysis

The second objective of the project is to detect and measure the exhaled ammonia and ethylene from patients with renal failure receiving haemodialysis. The analysis of ethylene and ammonia traces from human breath would provide the necessary insight into severity of oxidative stress and metabolic disturbances and assure optimal therapy and prevention of pathology at patients on continuous haemodialysis.
Human bodies use ammonia in a number of ways, including for the maintenance of the normal pH balance necessary to sustain life. Ammonia is processed in the liver, kidneys and skeletal muscles. Typically, ammonia and ammonium ions (in a healthy individual) are converted into urea in the liver through the urea cycle (Krebs-Henseileit cycle). As small molecules, ammonia and ammonium ions can penetrate the blood-lung barrier, being exhaled with the breath.
In the case of kidney dysfunction, urea is unable to be excreted, causing an excessive build up of ammonia in the blood, inducing the decay of all organism functions and causing morbidity and mortality.
Kidney dialysis is evaluated with a dimensionless parameter called urea reduction ratio (URR) that compares the pre and post dialysis levels of blood urea nitrogen (BUN). This calculation requires taking blood samples and generally sending them to a lab for BUN determination. A surrogate for the URR is breath ammonia reduction ratio (BARR - derived from the measurements of predialysis and during dialysis breath ammonia concentrations). For BUN (URR) under normal circumstances, results are not available in less than 12-48 hours, while for BARR with LPAS the results are available in less than 10 minutes.
To the normal buildup of urea in the body, a particularly increase in uremia at dialyzed patients should be added due to the oxidative stress. The oxidative stress is a persistent manifestation at patients with renal failure, where the loss of balance between free radical or reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and antioxidant systems is more pregnant, with strong negative effects on carbohydrates, lipids and proteins. In order to make the distinction between the level of uremia due to the normal physiological processes in the body and those induced by the stress of undergoing the dialysis, the parallel determination of ethylene concentration is required.
Comparing the measurements from dialyzed patients and healthy subjects we can establish an accurate correlation between URR and BUN evolution, and assess the level of trauma during dialysis. As a result, the ammonia and ethylene levels in the breath can be used for optimizing the haemodialysis duration for the patients with end-stage renal disease

c) Analysis of exhaled ethylene from smokers using traditional or electronic cigarettes (smoke vs. vapor emission)

As a third objective we plan to compare the ethylene concentrations at subjects who inhale cigarette smoke with subjects who inhale electronic smoke, and passive smokers.
There are millions of smokers in Romania alone that enjoy smoking cigarettes throughout the day. However, in recent years, cigarette smoking has been legally banned in many public places. Since then, smokers have been searching for smoking alternatives to help curb their nicotine cravings. Some people wear a nicotine patch, some people chew nicotine gum, and some people switch to electronic cigarettes.
One of the main differences in tobacco products and electronic cigarettes is that electronic
cigarettes to not produce smoke or tar. When you smoke a tobacco cigarette, smoke is expelled
into the air. This smoke contains over 4,000 different pollutants and toxins. When you smoke
an electronic cigarette, you are inhaling and exhaling vapors that contain nicotine. It contains no
pollutants and no second hand smoke is released, so the passive smoking danger is avoided.
Although electronic cigarettes have recently been marketed as a safer alternative to traditional smokes, a new analysis of 19 types of the E-cigarettes revealed that they contain toxic chemicals, e.g: diethylene glycol (a component of antifreeze that proved deadly when it was illegally added to toothpaste) and nitrosamines (known carcinogens found in tobacco smoke).
Traces of ethylene in breath air resulting from LP in lung epithelium following the inhalation of cigarette smoke and electronic vapors must be studied. The cigarette smoke contains many toxic components that may induce ethylene formation.  Ethylene oxide is a chemical product that induces cancer in the lungs. In order to monitor the damages caused by the inhaled smoke and inhaled vapor, a breath test must be performed in order to give us information on the volatile organic compounds under normal and stress circumstances.

d) Analysis of ethylene in organic fruits and vegetables versus non-organic fruits and vegetables

The fourth objective shall compare the ethylene concentrations from organic and non-organic food (fruits and vegetables) considering the last category as undergoing stress conditions.
The term “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits and vegetables. For organic food, farmers don’t use artificial hormones or irradiation on their plants, pesticides and herbicides are restricted, the routine use of drugs, antibiotics and wormers are disallowed, genetically modified crops and ingredients are banned.
For non-organic food, farmers apply synthetic pesticides and herbicides to combat insects and weeds, hormones, fertilizers and antibiotics (this is especially dangerous for humans when we ingest, because we encourage the rapid spread of antibiotic-resistant infections), irradiation and contaminated sewage sludge (it was showed that large amounts of this may contribute to chronic illnesses). In the case of the final product artificial colors or preservatives may be also added.
Stress is the “disease of the century”. At plants, stress is produced by irradiation, exposure to high temperature, flooding, drought, freezing, growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and herbicides (toxicity). These metabolic disturbances in fruits (vegetables) are followed by significant and rapid changes in the rate of ethylene emission. Irradiation (one of the metabolic disorder) preserves the food by disrupting the biological processes that lead to decay of food quality. Radiation interacts with water and other biological molecules in a food system and produces LP, which generally act as oxidizing agents and can cause several changes in the molecular structure of organic matter. Since this gas is also active within humans, it can lead to uncontrolled cell division or cancer.





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