Early invasive fungal infection detection with Terahertz sensor systems

January, 2014 to June, 2017

EIFFEL - Early invasive fungal infection detection with Terahertz sensor systems

Over the next two and a half years, a consortium of five universities, research institutes, and component and equipment developers and manufacturers, from Spain and Germany will develop new methods and techniques for quick and accurate diagnosis of Invasive Fungal Infections, using Terahertz technologies. The 1.8M€ project, called EIFFEL and led by the Spanish SME Anteral, is part of the European Union EuroTransBio program.

Invasive Fungal Infection (IFI) is a serious health problem. Fungal infections are one of the most severe hospital infections due to its high mortality. In severe cases, mortality is between 50% and 85% of the patients. Patients suffering oncohematologic diseases, immunosuppressive therapy, transplant or Intensive Care Unit (ICU) stay are the main target population affected by IFI. As a matter of fact the incidence of fungal infections has doubled in the last ten years. The increased use of invasive surgical techniques, the increasing number of transplants, the use of more immunosuppressive therapies and the use of increasingly aggressive treatments in patients with cancer have led to a higher incidence of these infections.

IFI diagnosis remains a controversial and unresolved issue. Conventional methods and tools for diagnosis have a low sensitivity and specificity and the results are obtained after several days, which means a delay in diagnosis and treatment and, as a consequence, increased mortality rate. To overhaul this problem the consortium aims at creating and developing new methods and tools based on Terahertz (THz) detection, which could be an alternative and/or complementary to the currently existing ones. These new techniques are expected to allow for a more sensible, specific and quick detection of the infectious agents responsible of IFI. The main objective of the project is the development of a commercial THz based fungi detection instrument. In order to achieve this goal the consortium will first spectrally characterize different fungi samples, first in a laboratory environment, then after culture and finally in blood, with the aim at determining the sensitivity of the technique and the most appropriate detection approach.

The project participants are leaders in Terahertz technology and health and biotechnology research. In addition to Anteral, the consortium includes the Public University of Navarra (Spain), University of Siegen (Germany), Navarrabiomed - Miguel Servet Foundation (Spain) and Toptica Photonics (Germany).

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