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Early Asthma Detection

Test Bed Vision:

“To detect the onset of asthma before an attack to improve management of asthma”

The onset of an asthma attack can seemingly come out of nowhere. Only when a person is struggling for breath does the management of the attack take place through an inhaler or other course of treatment. Sometimes that’s too late for effective treatment. If it was possible to detect an impending attack before it happened then that could enable measures to take place to prevent the attack, or reduce its severity.

Studies have found that several hours prior to the onset of asthma symptoms, nitric oxide levels in the breath increases. The main objective of this test bed is to develop a nitric oxide sensing strip that will allow patients to monitor their nitric oxide levels at home and intervene before the onset of a symptomatic asthma attack. In this way, asthma could be managed in the home in a similar manner to diabetes.

Asthma is a chronic illness that effects 2.4 million Australians and costs the health system $1.2 billion annually. Early diagnosis will reduce the burden on our hospitals and health systems and will enable those with asthma to improve their quality of life.

The test bed will be achieved by mimicking the nitric oxide sensing enzyme found in nature, but within CSIROs proprietary artificial silk material. The engineered material is stable and therefore suitable for device manufacture. Current research involves designing an electrode to give optimal electrochemical transduction signal in response to gaseous nitric oxide and quantifying performance criteria of the optimised sensor to allow comparison with existing commercially available devices.

This test bed is led by Trevor Rapson and Tara Sutherland from CSIRO’s Health and Biosecurity. Other participants include Mustafa Musameh, Chris Dunn and Andrea Woodhead.