Noze, a Canadian AI startup that is developing technology to digitize the sense of smell, announced a grant of $1 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build a breathalyzer, powered by its platform, to detect breath biomarkers (VOCs).

This technology is designed to enable the rapid screening and diagnostics of infectious diseases, such as Malaria and Tuberculosis, that impact millions of people, particularly in developing countries.

Healthcare screenings and diagnostics are often time consuming, invasive, costly, and not readily accessible to all population groups. Noze is seeking to help remedy this situation.

Exhaled breath offers an incredibly revealing picture of a person’s current health due to the efficient exchange that takes place between the blood and the air in the lungs. Many different diseases are represented in the breath through their unique metabolic biomarkers, which will be targeted via Noze’s platform enabling instant, low-cost and ubiquitous diagnostics, the company says.

The long-term goal of the initiative is to enable global access to a reliable detection device that can help reduce the spread of diseases, identify the need for treatment as early as possible, and improve patient outcomes in developing countries.

Underpinned by its exclusive license to NASA patents, Noze says it aims to evolve its AI-powered digital odor perception platform with a specialized focus on medical and health conditions.

“Breath-based diagnostics will be a game-changer for healthcare accessibility, and our ability to launch a portable device and deliver it on a massive, worldwide scale can be a powerful new tool to fight the spread of Malaria and Tuberculosis, in addition to many other diseases,” says Karim Aly, CEO at Noze, “We are thrilled to have the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as we develop an affordable and easy to use breathalyzer that can accurately detect infectious diseases to help millions of people.”

Development of the diagnostic breathalyzer is targeted for completion by the end of 2023, which will be followed by a clinical validation phase. Noze is also actively developing other health-related projects with additional partners, including the Montreal Heart Institute, with clinical trials underway that utilize the company’s digital odor perception platform.