Disease-test breathalyser to be developed at DCU

21 Dec 2015

DCU is helping develop an ammonia breathalyser to detect a range of diseases after BreathDX partnered with the college to further research in the area.

BreathDX now has access to DCU’s AmBeR breath ammonia measurement technology, which is being used to help diagnose and manage a range of conditions.

What’s key to this technology is it could dramatically reduce the price and complexity behind ammonia measuring, thus bringing a new, non-invasive diagnostic tool to market.

AmBeR was actually originally developed by BreathDX CTO Professor Tony Killard, who previously worked in DCU’s biomedical diagnostics institute (BDI).

The tool that Killard and his team are now developing uses disposable printed sensors based on nanotechnology, and can be miniaturised further into a portable, handheld device similar to the common alcohol breathalyser.

“Initial clinical evaluations/trials have shown that ammonia measurements have the same level of accuracy as standard blood-based tests to detect liver and kidney function, a critical indicator of a range of disease conditions,” says Killard.

“AmBeR offers a quick and immediate alternative to taking blood samples, as it allows patients and their families to perform painless breath measurements instead.

Killard thinks the new device has a “very promising future”, with uses in both medical institutions and at the home, if developed right.

Tony Killard CTO BreathDX | DCU

Tony Killard CTO BreathDX, which has signed a deal with DCU

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic