a woman wearing mouthpiece technology

Loughborough University developing breath test to predict health in older people

Loughborough University research is underway to develop a breath test to predict when health and physical function is at risk of declining in older people.

The study now welcomes participants aged 18 to 90, for simple measurements including breathing into a mouthpiece, as well as the collection of blood, saliva, and urine samples.

Researchers from the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, School of Science, and School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering will look for signs of frailty – the condition where multiple bodily systems decline in older people. Frailty poses significant health risks for individuals, making them more susceptible to illness and injury.

“We know that many older people have resilience to illness and injury and that early prediction of frailty or resilience is paramount for implementing targeted interventions and improving health outcomes.

This research project could help us predict when older people need more intensive support to stay healthy,” explained lead researcher Prof Alexandra Stolzing Professor of Biogerontological Engineering.

"We believe that analysing breath samples could hold the key to unlocking valuable insights into the ageing process and identifying individuals at risk of frailty," explains Dr Matthew Turner, Lecturer in Analytical Science.

"We aim to use AI-based approaches to identify the signature of molecules in the breath associated with frailty,” continues Dr Andrea Soltioggio, Senior Lecturer, Department of Computer Science.

"We are now at the stage of looking for participants to support the research,” Dr Katherine Brooke-Wavell, Senior Lecturer in Human Biology, added.

“As well as the breath test and samples, participants will undergo some other health-related measurements and complete questionnaires about lifestyle, medical history, and physical function. Those aged 65 and above will be asked to return to the university for measurements to be repeated once or twice over the next year.”

For more information about participating in the study please visit https://www.lboro.ac.uk/schools/sport-exercise-health-sciences/resilience-and-frailty or contact Usiju Shaldas by email (poraf@mailbox.lboro.ac.uk) or phone (01509 227890).

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 24/50

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines. 

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme and named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2023 QS World University Rankings – the seventh year running. 

Loughborough is ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2024, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2024 and 10th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024. 

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes. 

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.