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COVID-19 Rapid Breath Test Uses Exhaled VOCs in Human Breath as Biomarkers of SARS-CoV-2

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 01 Dec 2020
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Image: The ultra-rapid, highly accurate breath test for the detection of COVID 19 (Photo courtesy of Canary Health Technologies)
Image: The ultra-rapid, highly accurate breath test for the detection of COVID 19 (Photo courtesy of Canary Health Technologies)
A highly accurate, non-invasive, disposable breath test that aims detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus before the onset of symptoms in less than three minutes could soon arrive on the global market.

Canary Health Technologies (Cleveland, OH, USA) and Divoc Laboratories (Delhi, India) have entered into a collaboration to develop an ultra-rapid and highly accurate breath test for the detection of COVID19. The hand-held digital test which requires minimal training can be performed at the point of care without the need of a lab.

Using exhaled Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) found in human breath as biomarkers of the virus, the screening test named ASU Detect CV19 is designed to detect the virus in people with and without symptoms. Viral infections increase oxidative stress. The highly reactive free radicals produced by oxidative stress are powerful biomarkers of the diseases found in exhaled breath. The presence of unique VOC signatures in COVID-19 and similar viruses like rhinovirus, influenza, MERS and SARS are well established. Designed to detect a COVID-19 infected person in less than three minutes, the disposable breath test, which mitigates the risk of contamination, uses highly sensitive nanosensors to collect breath samples and cloud-based pattern recognition technology to determine if a person is infected.

Not only will ASU Detect CV19 have the ability to detect the disease from the time of infection, because the results are analyzed in a cloud-based system, the platform will also provide real-time surveillance for disease monitoring, and track and trace initiatives. Health authorities will be able to see disease hotspots as they form and respond quickly. Ultra-rapid screening at airports and other high density and transmission areas will drastically reduce the potential for disease transmission, and allow COVID-free people more freedom of movement.

The pivotal trial will be the first and largest clinical trials using a real-time breath test for the detection of an infectious disease with cloud-based artificial intelligence for pattern recognition as the analytical tool. The trial will see the collection of breath samples from 750 people - both COVID-19 positive patients and those who do not have the virus. They will be asked to breathe for three minutes into the device. The device will then translate their breath biomarkers into electronic signals which will be transmitted to a centralized “lab in the cloud” for analysis. Preliminary results are expected before the end of December 2020.

“This is next-generation technology and has the ability to completely revolutionize testing for COVID-19 and play a critical role in stopping the spread of the virus,” said Professor Ashok Rattan, the Principal Investigator of the trial, a prominent lab scientist who was formerly professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi and Lab Director of PAHO / WHO administered Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program. “Currently there does not exist an ideal test that could be a real time, non-invasive, highly accurate mass screening tool to be used to reduce transmission. The biomarkers in the breath are as unique as our fingerprints in the identification of diseases. The Canary breath test has the potential to responsibly open the economy and protect the population.”

“We are excited to be partnering with Canary on this ground-breaking technology,” said Dr. Kanav Kahol, CEO of DIVOC Laboratories, a renowned healthcare innovator. “With this test, we are accelerating into the digital age where healthcare is provided on the spot. The potential of this transformative platform is almost limitless. Beyond COVID-19, this digital platform can detect many other diseases including cancer and TB. The easy-to-use, mobile nature of the test can make an enormous health impact in a country like India where tele-medicine is becoming the norm. Personalized healthcare will see the biggest surge in the coming decade and the Canary breath test platform will be uniquely positioned to lead that movement.”

Related Links:
Canary Health Technologies
Divoc Laboratories

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