The portable device could be used to diagnose a range of diseases
A device which can detect stomach bugs by analysing the smell of patients' faeces has been developed by scientists at Bristol's two universities.
Researchers say the device, known as the OdoReader, works by enabling gases emitted from stool samples to be analysed in under an hour.
They claim early diagnosis can help prevent the spread of infection and save the health service money.
The Wellcome Trust has awarded £1.3m to develop the product over three years.
Gastro-intestinal diseases such as C. difficile affect thousands of people - more than 50,000 cases were reported in England and Wales last year with an annual cost to the NHS of £200m.
Professor Chris Probert, from the University of Bristol, said: "For a long time it has been known that stools have a distinctive and different odour if there is an infection.
"What OdoReader does is take this 'knowledge' a step further by comparing the odour of faeces of patients with those from patients with specific gastro-intestinal disease to make a rapid diagnosis at point of care."
Professor Norman Ratcliffe, from the University of the West of England, said: "We expect OdoReader to be a portable device for the diagnosis of C. difficile.
"It does however have potential far beyond that. It could be used for a range of other gastro-intestinal disease as well as lung and urinary tract diseases too."
The device will undergo clinical trials and it is hoped it will be available for use by 2013.