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CPI to develop needle-free breathalyser for diabetes

13 January 2016

The simple to use breathalyser being developed by Applied Nanodetectors Ltd will give diabetics a non-invasive method for monitoring their daily glucose levels and has the potential to replace the blood-based ‘prick test’ used today.

Diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges in the world today and despite many advances in disease treatment, the prevalence of diabetes is increasing dramatically. Improvements are required in the management of the disease, both for the healthcare provider and the patient. Glucose monitoring is an essential requirement of disease management, however, effective and routine monitoring remains a constant challenge, primarily because of the invasive nature of glucose monitoring devices. Taking a blood sample remains an unpleasant experience and one of the main causes of poor patient compliance. This is particular acute for young sufferers, for whom daily blood tests are perhaps most traumatic. A non-invasive handheld breath test device would significantly improve patient monitoring and self management, however current devices are yet to meet a price point that facilitates adoption to the mass market.

Applied Nanodetectors Ltd is working together with the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) to focus on the feasibility of designing and printing a novel low cost glucose sensor to be incorporated into a breathalyser to measure the levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in human breath. The ability to print glucose sensors provides the opportunity to mass produce the sensors at extremely low costs per unit. The collaboration is part of a recent nine month Innovate UK project titled ‘Plasense’ which finished in December 2015 and developed a low cost and scalable printed sensor technology onto flexible plastic substrates. Further development work will look at upscaling the sensor and integration into a point of care diagnostic device. The project is a key breakthrough for the monitoring of glycemic levels and if commercialised, the technology could revolutionise the way in which we monitor glucose levels across the globe.

  • “This project was an important step in the development of a low cost sensor platform for use as a breath test for the management of diabetes. This would provide diabetics with a non-invasive easy to use test compared to the established finger prick method. This new sensor platform offers both high sensitivity and industry leading reliability and can be modified for use in new clinical applications. Using the sensors in a portable handheld device will facilitate the creation of new point-of-care diagnostic tests, which will enable more efficient healthcare delivery leading to improved patient outcomes. Working with CPI has helped to accelerate the sensor development cycle and utilise plastic electronics technologies to obtain the most cost effective manufacturing solution.”

    Dr Victor Higgs
    Managing Director at Applied Nanodetectors Ltd
  • “Applied Nanodetectors Ltd is a pioneering company and we are delighted to be working with them in this important step to take their innovative technology closer to market. The project evaluated the suitability of a range of gases for monitoring VOC’s and benchmarked their performance against existing technology. We were also able to optimise sensor performance. The incorporation of a low cost, printed glucose sensor offers great potential for the commercialisation of a multi-use and environmentally friendly breathalyser device for daily diabetic management. Regular self monitoring would lead to more effective patient treatment, a reduction in healthcare costs and a shift to more proactive point-of-care treatments.”

    James Johnstone
    Business Manager at CPI