Project DEVICE: Development of a rapid test for infections by breath analysis

The DEVICE project (started in 2022) will advance the development of rapid, accurate and non-invasive tests for viral, bacterial or combined infections. It is assumed that infections change the biochemistry of the body and thus also the composition of the breath. The goal is to be able to detect an infection much more quickly in the future than with current tests such as blood tests or PCR tests, thereby enabling the best treatment to be initiated quickly and even chains of infection to be broken. A rapid test based on breath analysis is being developed that is no more difficult to use than an Alkomat test.

Development of a learning algorithm for infection screening.

The research project will develop a learning algorithm for infection screening. This will enable the detection of current and future emerging, viral and bacterial infections based on exhaled volatile compounds in real-time proximity. This innovative and interdisciplinary approach includes the determination of volatile compounds in the breath in clearly defined patient groups, which ensure a separation between patients with viral and with bacterial infections, as well as from healthy persons. Furthermore, the development and optimization of the analytical method for the gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry (GC-IMS) procedure, the biostatistical analysis of the multidimensional spectral data, the validation of the volatile markers in the clinical setting, in the field with the GCIMS, as well as the development of machine learning algorithms for a future autonomous function of the device are crucial.

Gaining new insights into volatile compounds in infections.

New insights are gained into the volatile organic compounds associated with infection. A carefully designed and monitored clinical trial with a large number of patients will ensure statistically relevant and validated data generation, enabling the development of a robust pattern recognition algorithm for infection screening. The end result will be the demonstration of the applicability of GC-IMS for the diagnosis of viral/bacterial infections from breath, as well as the determination of the specificity and sensitivity of the method in a blind clinical study.

Coordination, partners and financing of the DEVICE project

The project is coordinated by the Leopold-Franzens University of Innsbruck (Institute for Respiratory Gas Analysis); partners are the Donaustadt Clinic (Vienna), Johanniter Österreich Ausbildung und Forschung gem. GmbH (Vienna) and Solgenium OG (Graz).

DEVICE is financed by a grant in the program “ICT of the Future” (Call 2020) from the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology.