Oxford Medical Diagnostics achieves detection of 1ppm acetone in breath

21 November 2011

Oxford University spinout Oxford Medical Diagnostics has announced that it has achieved a significant target in developing a cost-effective desk-top breath analysis device to diagnose diabetes.

The company is now consistently able to measure acetone from human breath at below one part per million (1ppm) using its pre-prototype device. OMD anticipates that it will now be possible to manufacture a commercial version at less than one-tenth of the cost of a suitable mass spectrometer, the alternative method currently available for such measurements.

Being able to measure at below 1ppm means OMD is able to detect one part of acetone in a million parts of breath and represents a significant step forward in its development of new techniques to analyse human breath, initially for the screening, diagnosis and monitoring of diabetes.

“Accuracy at 1ppm is key to the instrument’s operation as a breath analyzer”, said Diana Davies, CEO, OMD. “Healthy people exhale around 0.5 ppm acetone, whereas for untreated/undiagnosed diabetics the level can rise to ten times that amount.”

Julie Edge, paediatric clinician, Oxford Children’s Hospital, who will soon be working with OMD on its first paediatric trial using breath analysis, said: “The burden of Type I diabetes in children is great. Children, as young as babies and toddlers, are required to have up to ten finger-pricks per day to check their blood glucose levels, as well as to have several injections of insulin per day.

“Any advance which would reduce the number of invasive tests a child needs to carry out would be very welcome. A non-invasive method of measuring blood glucose levels and blood ketones would be a valuable adjunct to patient care in this age group.”

OMD’s next target is a hand-held device for diabetes patients that will replace invasive (finger-prick) blood glucose monitoring devices. Based on OMD’s proprietary spectroscopy techniques a pre-prototype device is expected to be ready for out-licensing by 2013.

“The hand held device will be market-disruptive and will revolutionise at-patient management of diabetes, a market worth some USD five billion a year, eventually making the use of invasive blood glucose monitoring devices obsolete” said John Jack, OMD chairman.

Diana Davies said: “Now that we have the desktop device at the pre-prototype stage the next steps for the company are to license commercial partners who will manufacture and distribute OMD products to the marketplace.”

The company has developed proprietary analysis technologies including Cavity Enhanced Absorption Spectroscopy (CEAS), based on tunable diode lasers, Broadband Cavity Enhanced Absorption Spectroscopy (BBCEAS), which uses super-luminescent light emitting diodes and Plasma Emission Spectroscopy (PES).


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