Sensor determines medication requirements of asthmatics

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A sensor under development at the KTH - Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden aims to help asthmatics determine the amount of medication they need.

Niclas Roxhed, researcher at the Department of Micro Systems Technology at KTH, is currently involved in the development of the sensor, which senses the levels of nitric oxide in exhaled air − a measure of how inflamed the lungs are at any particular time.

In the future, an instrument based on the new sensor will allow asthma patients to determine how much asthma medication they require at any particular time − a procedure that they will be able to perform at home.

’The instrument that is used for making such measurements today is as big as a packet of muesli and is typically only found at a specialist practice,’ said Roxhed.

Roxhed’s research is being carried out in co-operation with Aerocrine, a manufacturer of test instruments currently used to perform such analyses. Hans Peter Starck-Johnson, product-development manager at the company, believes that the deployment of the sensor could reduce the cost of such an instrument by one quarter of its present price.

’This means that the price per test will become more attractive for home use and the patient can keep the equipment at home too. In this way, the patient can optimise his or her treatment and would not need to visit a doctor,’ he said.

Engineers are developing electronic and analysis technologies designed to help keep chronically ill people out of hospital. Stuart Nathan reports. Click here to read more (subscription required).