The SniffPhone, a device developed for the detection of disease from exhaled breath, has been awarded the 2018 Innovation Award from the European Commission for the most Innovative Project. The project, funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation grant, involved a consortium of 9 partners, including Cellix. We are delighted the project received the award as formal recognition of the hard work and dedication of each project partner.
What is the SniffPhone?
The SniffPhone, a compact handheld device, measures exhaled breath and allows the early diagnosis of cancer. Screening and early disease detection are essential in identifying groups of people who are at an increased risk of disease development. It is crucial to detect disease symptoms in patients as early as possible, as many forms of disease, including numerous cancers, can be more challenging to treat and are associated with higher mortality rates in later stages of the disease. As such, early detection is important across a range of diseases to increase the likelihood of successful treatment. The ideal screening test is one that is high accuracy, low-cost, non-invasive, easily repeatable, effortlessly operated by a lay-person and has minimal impact on the person’s daily activities.
The SniffPhone project aimed to tackle these requirements by integrating heterogeneous micro- and nano-technologies into an autonomous smart system that can be attached to a mobile phone and used to analyse disease markers from exhaled breath. The device is portable and easy to use. It works by sampling exhaled breath and measuring the contained Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) contained in the patient's breath. Highly sensitive nanotechnology-based chemical sensors contained within the device then measure the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) contained within the users exhaled breath. The data gathered can be then sent via Bluetooth using a smartphone to a dedicated cloud platform to be analyzed by suitable medical professionals. This is a novel method of disease diagnosis giving the SniffPhone an unparalleled advantage over more traditional screening methods. Most notably, the device involves simple and pain-free detection of disease in a cost-effective alternative for medical professionals.
SniffPhone represents a new concept addressing major societal challenges in health and wellbeing of the general population, while considering constituent ethical and security aspects.
Cellix, along with 8 other partners spanning 6 countries across the globe, were involved in the development of the device. The micropump used in the SniffPhone was developed here at Cellix in Ireland, the nanosensors were developed in Israel by NanoVation and Technion, fluidics by Microfluidic ChipShop in Germany, and the cloud platform by VTT in Finland. The clinical studies were carried out at the University of Latvia in Riga, with further testing and technical experimentation carried out in Austria at the University of Innsbruck. Siemens has taken part in the testing and validation phase of the SniffPhone project and conducted usability studies. JLM Innovation, Germany provides system integration, the device software, the SniffPhone App and algorithms for the measurement system. The project was able to take place thanks to funding granted by EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme for research, technological development, and demonstration.
Just last week at the European Forum for Electronic Components and Systems in Lisbon, the award for Most Innovative Project in Horizon 2020 was presented to the SniffPhone project. The project faced steep competition from many other distinguished groups involved in Horizon 2020, the biggest EU Research and Innovation program ever.
What’s next for SniffPhone?
The medical project partners are now carrying out further field testing of the device. The SniffPhone is now looking for investors to bring this exciting research to market through a spin-off company. SniffPhone technology holds the potential to revolutionize cancer screening for patients all over the world.