New odour-'reading' device sniffs out superbug

Feb 05, 2010
Designworks image of OdoReader prototype.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Testing has begun on a device that can sniff out the presence of Clostridium difficile disease by smell, thanks to an award from the Wellcome Trust.

The new device - OdoReader - can diagnose the superbug difficile by 'reading' the odour of stool samples. Developed by Professor Chris Probert from the University of Bristol and Professor Norman Ratcliffe from the University of the West of England, the technology enables gasses emitted from faeces to be analysed in under an hour, leading to a rapid and inexpensive diagnosis.

Such early detection could reap real health benefits for millions of people and help prevent the spread of infectious disease.

"For a long time it has been known that stools have a distinctive and different odour if there is an infection," said Professor Probert.

"What OdoReader does is take this 'knowledge' a step further by comparing the odour of faeces of patients with those from people with specific gastro-intestinal disease to make a rapid diagnosis at point of care."

Gastro-intestinal diseases afflict over four billion adults and children each year. Delays in diagnosis can lead to prolonged and sometimes death. The C. difficile bacteria can cause severe , especially among hospitalised patients. There are over 50 000 cases of C. difficile infection in England and Wales each year.

The £1.3 million Wellcome Trust Translation Award will support the development of OdoReader prototypes, which will then be tested against the industry 'gold standard' method of making the diagnosis. If successful, the final product will undergo a clinical trial before becoming available for commercialisation. The award covers a three-year programme of work starting in January 2010.

"We expect OdoReader to be a portable device for the diagnosis of C. difficile, however it has potential far beyond that," said Professor Ratcliffe.

"It could be used for a range of other as well as lung and urinary tract diseases too."

Explore further: Human brain has coping mechanism for dehydration

Provided by Wellcome Trust News and features

4 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The balance shifts

May 27, 2008

The risk of contracting a Clostridium difficile infection following operations for which a "prophylactic" antibiotic is given to prevent infection is 21 times greater now than it was just a decade ago, according to researchers ...

C. difficile and antibiotics not necessarily linked

Oct 07, 2008

The latest study by Dr. Sandra Dial from the Research Institute of the MUHC, McGill University, and Attending Staff in the Intensive Care Unit at the Jewish General Hospital, questions the assumption held by a vast majority ...

Doctors identify patients at high risk of C. difficile

Apr 01, 2009

Doctors have developed and validated a clinical prediction rule for recurrent Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection that was simple, reliable and accurate, and can be used to identify high-risk patients most likely t ...

APIC launches first national C. difficile prevalence study

Mar 20, 2008

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) today announced a detailed strategy to combat Clostridium difficile-associated disease (CDAD). The initiative begins with the first national prevalence ...

Recommended for you

Human brain has coping mechanism for dehydration

6 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Although dehydration significantly reduces blood flow to the brain, researchers in England have found that the brain compensates by increasing the amount of oxygen it extracts from the blood. ...

User comments : 0