For the February CO Research Trust lecture we were joined by Dr Stefania Oliverio – for her presentation ‘Total blood carbon monoxide: alternative biomarkers to carboxyhemoglobin for CO poisoning diagnosis’.

Stefania is a forensic toxicologist at the National Health Laboratory in Luxemburg, department of forensic medicine. She participated in an Erasmus Mundus Master project, an EU-funded cooperation between 3 European universities (England, Spain, and Portugal), from which she obtained her Master of Science in Forensic Science.

Stefania then went on to work on a collaboration project between the University of Lausanne and Brunel University, funded by the CO Research Trust. Which looked at whether measuring CO rather than COHb in the blood is a more reliable way to diagnose CO exposure.

In the UK, USA, and many other countries, around half of accidental, non-fire-related poisoning fatalities are attributed to carbon monoxide (CO) every year. However, due to the non-specificity of the symptoms and, the limitations of carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) as a biomarker, there is general agreement that many cases are being missed or misdiagnosed, especially at low levels.

Dr Oliverio’s study sought to identify a more reliable biomarker for detecting CO exposure and assessed whether the methods used to store blood has an effect on CO levels, and whether this leads to an underestimation of the incidence of CO exposure.

See below to watch the presentation in full: