Grant awarded for the development of new, highly sensitive breath test
An interfaculty team from the UM has been awarded an Innovative Medical Devices Initiative (IMDI) grant for the development and valorisation of a highly sensitive compact breath test that can recognise diseases based on substances in the exhaled breath. This is a collaboration between the department of Paediatrics of MUMC+, CAPHRI and the department of Research Engineering (FHML), the department of Sensor Engineering (FSE), companies Alphaszenszor and Breath Medics, and various healthcare organisations in the region.
Early diagnosis of chronic disease, e.g. chronic lung, kidney or liver diseases and cancer, is crucial to improve treatment and prognosis, especially in vulnerable patients such as children and elderly. However, current breath tests do not extract enough information from the exhaled breath and require too much breathing effort for vulnerable patients.
From prototype to usable test
In this project, a breath test will be developed based on a prototype that was already created by the aforementioned team, in which highly sensitive (carbon) nanotube sensors can measure subtle differences in the exhaled breath. The development consists of making the sensors specifically sensitive to asthma by coating them with chemicals (FSE), reading out the sensor with custom-made electronics and placing it in a controlled climate chamber, and processing the signals with artificial intelligence (FHML). In addition, breathing will be facilitated by mimicking canine nasal airflow. This new breath test will be validated with children aged 1 to 4 years, where asthma is suspected (MUMC+). The ambition is to develop the breath test into a medical product that can help tens of thousands of people in the Netherlands every year.
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