Bioanalysis Zone

New breath testing device could offer noninvasive testing for thousands


A new breath testing device that could help patients suffering from a number of chronic diseases has been pioneered by Tony Killard at the University of the West of England (UK).

Killard and his team developed a mass producible polyaniline nanoparticle-based sensor extremely sensitive to measuring ammonia in simulated human breath. The new device holds the potential to revolutionize biomedical diagnostics in numerous diseases.

The initial research findings were originally published in 2013 in the journal Analytica Chimica Acta and the device, termed AmBeR, is currently in production to be included in clinical studies in May 2016.

Modern biomedical diagnostics have struggled in providing accurate, point-of-care diagnostic and analytical information via noninvasive methods and thus patients suffering from chronic disease often endure invasive and unpleasant methods of diagnosis.

Clinical research in the past has demonstrated the close correlation between breath gas concentrations and biological disorders. Although several noninvasive diagnostics have been developed for measuring gases such as ammonia in human breath, these technologies are large or expensive and not appropriate for medical diagnostics where point-of-care equipment is required.

Using impedimetric techniques, Killard developed a sensor able to measure ammonia in artificial breath excluding any interference from other gases, heat or moisture. The highly sensitive sensor consists of polyaniline manufactured from inkjet-printed deposition of polyaniline nanoparticles onto screen-printed electrodes. Results from the experiments demonstrated ammonia could be detected from a single breath sample.

The new technology, which is smaller than a shoe box is the first of its kind and could transform clinical diagnostics for many patients. Commenting on his innovation, Killard said the device “will give clinicians a tool they don’t currently have and it changes where and how often they can do the testing. You can do a test every day if necessary or you could do a test at home – it’s quite transformative.”

Humbled by the impact of his innovation, Killard is currently in the process of commercializing the AmBeR technology by his company BreathDX (UK). The company is looking to expand the use of this new technology for monitoring trace breath gases in various other conditions including diabetes.

Source: Breathtaking innovation: New device could end blood test agony for thousands; Hibbard T, Crowley K, Killard AJ. Direct measurement of ammonia in simulated human breath using an inkjet-printed polyaniline nanoparticle sensor. Anal Chim Acta. 779, 56–63 (2013).


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