Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a curable fungal lung infection that kills 100 percent of untreated patients and 30 percent of treated patients. At best, existing clinical protocols and tests are invasive, slow to yield results or have limited accuracy. Clinicians initially may put patients on antibiotics and wait to see if they work rather than begin treatment with antifungals due to their toxic side effects. By the time patients receive a positive diagnosis of IA and start appropriate antifungals, they may have waited 10 or 11 days, during which their health has declined further as the infection advanced. Earlier detection is critical to increasing rates of survival.
Draper collaborated with Brigham and Women’s Hospital to develop a breath-based test for invasive aspergillosis. Based on Differential Mobility Spectrometry (DMS) technology, Draper’s microAnalyzer™ has been implemented in a multiyear clinical test to noninvasively detect IA bedside. The microAnalyzer’s results were validated via parallel patient breath sample collection and processing on conventional gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).
The microAnalyzer has been integrated with capnography capabilities into a clinical-ready point-of-care system. It provides highly accurate results within minutes to help clinicians make the right diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment right away — potentially improving recovery rates and shortening expensive hospital stays.
Draper’s DMS device is smaller, less complex and less expensive than a mass spectrometer, and it detects trace vapors in concentrations as low as a few parts per trillion. Unlike other detectors, microAnalyzer doesn’t require hardware modifications to measure new chemical signatures — it can be programmed to select other known biomarkers just by adding an additional signature file. To configure the system to detect other diseases, Draper or our customers can perform breath biomarker development and validation, system design and test.
Future work on microAnalyzer for use in breath analysis includes refining the final form factor and algorithms to aid clinicians in making diagnoses and deciding treatment.
Originally developed to analyze air quality aboard the International Space Station, where it monitors the cabin’s air to ensure the health and safety of the astronauts onboard, Draper’s microAnalyzer is appropriate to monitor air in submarines, tanks, cockpits and other confined spaces. It could be configured to perform other medical testing, such as breath analysis for numerous diseases, including cancers, respiratory diseases and infectious diseases.