Development of a non-invasive breath test for early diagnosis of tropical diseases – acronym TROPSENSE

Created in: 2015-02-09 Share:   

MSCA-RISE-2014: Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE), Grant nr. 645758  (2015 – 2019)

The main objective of our project is the development of a fast, inexpensive, and easy-to-operate diagnostics tool for on-site early detection of Echinococcosis, Leishmaniasis and Dengue, based on the analysis of exhaled breath composition by means of an electronic olfaction system.

Echinococcosis, Leishmaniasis and Dengue are included in the list of 17 neglected tropical diseases elaborated by the World Health Organization (WHO), which are a group of tropical infections that are prevalent in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas, affecting especially the low-income populations in the developing areas.

Echinococcosis is a parasitic disease that occurs in two main forms in humans: cystic echinococcosis (also known as hydatidosis) and alveolar echinococcosis, caused by the tapeworms Echinococcus granulosus and E. multilocularis, respectively.

Leishmaniases are diseases caused by protozoan parasites from more than 20 Leishmania species that are transmitted to humans by the bites of infected female phlebotomine sandflies.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection causing a severe flu-like illness and, sometimes, it causes a potentially lethal complication called severe (haemorrhagic) dengue.

All these neglected tropical diseases generally cause unspecific symptoms, and they cannot be easily identified when a patient arrives at the hospital. The failure of an early diagnosis and prescription of an adequate treatment can be extremely negative and even fatal for the patient.


This project aims at demonstrating the feasibility of a non-invasive, safe and patient-friendly methodology for on-site rapid diagnosis of tropical diseases. The proposed approach is based on breath samples analyses, which are easy to obtain and present no discomfort or risk for patients’ health. In this study will be enrolled patients with three different types of neglected tropical diseases (Hydatidosis, Leishmaniasis and Dengue) from different geographical locations (Europe, South America and Maghreb). Breath sampling will follow a standardised procedure. Analytical chemistry methods will be employed for the identification of the breath volatile biomarkers of these diseases. A pool of potential nanomaterials with high affinity towards the identified volatile biomarkers will be selected (e.g., gold nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes and semiconducting nanowires, either pristine or functionalised with selected hydrophobic organic molecules, bio-molecules and/or metallic nanoparticles). For maximising the possibility of success of our methodology, we will investigate the synergic effect of different advanced and complementary chemical sensing techniques: Mid-Infrared Quantum Cascade Laser spectroscopy and different types of Chemical Gas Sensors devices. These techniques are particularly attractive, since they can be miniaturised and are suitable for building on-site portable systems. Advanced pattern recognition algorithms will be employed for building discriminative models for the identification of the fingerprints of the different tropical diseases studied, and multisensors data fusion will be then applied for obtaining enhanced results. A point of care prototype will be proposed on the basis of the results obtained and will be validated on-site.

link to TROPSENSE Project Website (limba engleză)


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