May 17, 2020

Test can detect breath and sweat in disaster zones

sniffer test
2 min
The portable sniffer test could help find buried victims of natural disasters
A team of researchers from Loughborough University in the UK are currently working on a sensor which could help find victims who are buried in rubble a...

A team of researchers from Loughborough University in the UK are currently working on a sensor which could help find victims who are buried in rubble after natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

Tests of the portable ‘sniffer’ device have shown it is able to detect breath, sweat and skin particles given off by humans and could help speed up rescue missions.

An experiment of the sensor, which saw volunteers take turns lying in an imitation of a collapsed building, found it was successful in identifying carbon dioxide, ammonia and organic compounds.

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The study was led by Professor Paul Thomas from Loughborough University. He said: “This is the first scientific study on sensing systems that could detect trapped people.

“The development of a portable detection device based on metabolites of breath, sweat and skin could hold several advantages over current techniques.”

Sniffer dogs are currently one of the most common methods of searching for buried victims, but can be time consuming as the dogs require frequent rests and are costly to train.

Thomas added: “A device could be used in the field without laboratory support.

“It could monitor signs of life for prolonged periods and be deployed in large numbers, as opposed to a handful of dogs working, at risk to themselves and their handlers, for 20 minutes before needing extensive rest.”

The results of the research into the breath test are currently appearing in the Journal of Breath Research, which is published by the Institute of Physics.

A spokesperson for the institute commented on the study: “As the first study of its kind, this preliminary work can be built upon to help prepare for future disasters such as those tragedies we've seen recently in Japan and New Zealand.”

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Jun 18, 2021

Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool 

2 min
Skin Analytics uses AI to detect skin cancer and will be deployed across the NHS to ease patient backlogs

An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system. 

NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion. 

Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making. 

In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog. 

Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening. 

DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.

Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges. 

"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”

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