Ivan Medvedev, Ph.D.
Sleep deprivation, exercise, or continuous mental tasking are fatigue-related contributors in DoD mishaps. Therefore, a critical need exists for fatigue detection technologies which are real-time, non-invasive, compact, portable, and accurate to aid decisions to replace or rest an individual as a preventative measure. Certain compounds in human breath have been linked to disease states, and it is anticipated that fatigue affects breath composition similarly. Our approach utilizes THz spectroscopy which is capable of detecting and measuring numerous breath biomarkers with absolute specificity, high sensitivity, and high throughput. In Phase I, the THz spectroscopy detection method was validated against GC/MS methods and identified breath compounds isoprene, dimethyl sulfide, and acetaldehyde in sleep-deprived individuals that correlate well with results from cognitive tests measuring fatigue. In Phase II, we will extend GC/MS and THz spectroscopy analysis in sleep-deprived subjects to acquire data for algorithm development to validate predictive capabilities of breath biomarker analysis for fatigue. We will also build and validate a compact, portable, integrated table top THz chemical sensor capable of monitoring breath compounds in real-time. Advratech is poised to collaborate with Boeing, WPAFB (Human Systems Division and AFRL/711th HPW) and TITUS during Phase II to accelerate commercialization of the proposed technology.; BENEFIT: The field of breath biomarkers is relatively unexplored compared to tests and diagnostics based on blood, urine, or other bodily parameters (i.e., EKG). The benefits and potential commercial applications of THz sensor technology address both issues of breath diagnostics and the detection of a wide array of compounds. THz spectroscopic sensors are unique in their ability to achieve high sensitivity and near absolute specificity and are amenable to miniaturization, portability, and high-throughput. We will refine our algorithms in Phase II for the putative biomarkers to develop a predictive capability of when an individual may be fatigued and a drop in performance may occur. This non-invasive approach to detect fatigue will benefit DoD and commercial industries in which fatigue has contributed to accidents, i.e., commercial pilots and drivers. Athletes and Special Operations Forces, who engage in strenuous training and sometimes irregular sleep, will also benefit from early fatigue warnings before conditions such as rhabdomyolysis develop. Lastly, THz spectroscopy is ideal for environmental monitoring in the field as this technique can detect most light compounds with electric dipole moments. Thus, with spectroscopic library, hardware and software development, THz sensors can be utilized in a variety of health, human performance, and environmental settings.