The protein templating route for the diagnostic nanosensor. (Credit: KAIST)

Researchers have developed a sensor that can diagnose certain diseases by analyzing exhaled breath. The technology, which uses protein-encapsulated nanocatalysts, enables early monitoring of various diseases through pattern recognition of biomarker gases related to diseases in human breath.

The route of the protein-templated catalyst synthesis is very simple and versatile. It produces not only a single component of catalytic nanoparticles, but also diverse heterogeneous intermetallic catalysts with sizes less than 3 nm. The research team has developed increasingly sensitive and selective chemiresistive sensors that can potentially diagnose specific diseases.

In human breath, diverse components are found including water vapor, hydrogen, acetone, toluene, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon monoxide. Some of these components are closely related to diseases such as asthma, lung cancer, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and halitosis.

The disease diagnosis platform recognizes individual breathing patterns by using a multiple sensor array system with diverse sensing layers and heterogeneous catalysts, so that people can easily identify health abnormalities. Using a 16-sensor array system, physical conditions can be continuously monitored by analyzing concentration changes of biomarkers in exhaled breath gases.