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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 14:55 GMT
Infection 'sniffer' wins approval
James White, CEO Osmetech
James White shows off the new e-nose device
A British-devised "electronic nose" which can sniff out bacteria within minutes has been approved for use in the United States.

The electronic odour sensor or 'e-nose', developed by a Crewe company, could save health providers, including the NHS, millions of pounds each year by reducing the amount of money spent on laboratory tests and on precautionary medication.

The US Federal Food and Drug Administration approved the device on Thursday and Osmetech, the manufacturers, are now working on plans to make their product available commercially by the end of 2002.

The device rapidly detects urinary tract infections (UTIs) by identifying chemicals given off by bacteria in urine samples.

It has recorded a 96% success rate in trials.

Doctors should be able to make a negative diagnosis in their own surgery within 10 minutes

James White, CEO Osmetech
Currently, tests for UTI can take several days to return from laboratories. In the interim, patients are prescribed medication in case of infection.

The device will enable doctors to make a rapid diagnosis, cutting both laboratory and drug costs.

Huge benefits

James White, chief executive of Osmetech, said the device could bring benefits to millions of patients.

"In terms of urinary tract infection, it is estimated that there are between 50 million and 100 million tests carried out in the US each year.

"What we have come up with is a screening device to get rid of those negative diagnoses which means laboratories can concentrate on the positives.

"It is a product which can be used at the point of delivery of care which means doctors should be able to make a negative diagnosis in their own surgery within 10 minutes.

"It will also reduce the number of people receiving antibiotics while they wait for the laboratory results," he told BBC News Online.

Osmetech is planning to speed up negotiations with other companies as part of plans to make the e-nose commercially available.

"The key to the next stage is making sure we get the right person who is interested in investing in this technology.

"But we are certainly hoping to have a product available by the back end of next year."

See also:

28 Jun 01 | Health
Cranberry juice beats infection
27 Sep 99 | Sci/Tech
Sniffing out infections
09 Feb 00 | Health
Bacteria may be added to tampons
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