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Porto researchers use electronic nose to diagnose asthma

Researchers at the Institute of Public Health at the University of Porto (ISPUP) have developed an algorithm that, when using a medical device called an electronic nose, aims to aid in the “diagnosis and monitoring” of patients with asthma symptoms.

Mariana Farraia, an ISPUP researcher, explained that the study, recently distinguished by the European Academy of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, arose from the “need in the area of researching new technologies and tools” to assist clinicians in the diagnosis and monitoring of patients with asthma.

The study, called Human Volatilome Analysis To Identify Individuals With Asthma In Clinical Settings, which is now being reviewed for publication, has been developed in two phases: in the creation of an algorithm and in clinical validation, having recruited 207 patients of the Hospital Center of São João, in Porto.

“The objective was to test this [electronic nose] technology to evaluate asthmatics during the consultations and to see how the evaluation of the exhaled air could help in the diagnosis of asthma itself,” said Mariana Farraia, adding that “there are differences in exhaled air of people who have asthma symptoms. ”

“Through a tube, we collected samples from the patients’ exhaled air. The samples were then placed in the device, which evaluated and analyzed the profiles of the compounds present in the air,” he explained.

According to the researcher, Fellow of the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the use of this medical device, which is being “widely studied at European level”, may also help “target the therapies.”

“We want to make it easier to diagnose this disease. The diagnosis of the disease is complicated, because the doctor has to evaluate many conditions, and the application of the treatment is done according to international recommendations, as the doses are increasing or decreasing according to the symptomatic state of the patients, “he said.

Data from the National Health Survey (INS) estimate that in Portugal, the prevalence of asthma is 5.3%, approximately 530 thousand people, and 1.4% of Portuguese suffer from more severe forms of the disease.

Mariana Farraia said she now intends to do a “longitudinal study” and see if “changes translate into exhaled air at the level of disease monitoring,” as well as “whether it is possible that changes at the inflammatory and symptomatic level are reflected in the exhaled air “.

The work of ISPUP researchers was also honored in November 2018 at the ISAF – International Severe Asthma Forum, held in Madrid.

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