Breath Test Developed for COVID-19

Researchers at Ohio State University succeeded in developing a breath test for COVID-19 that can detect the infection in seconds. The basis of the test is a unique ‘breath fingerprint’ of COVID-19 that researchers have identified, and this includes a specific combination of oxygen, nitric oxide and ammonia in the breath.

At this stage of the pandemic, many people have been tested for COVID-19 and testing remains a key tool in tracking and containing the virus. While PCR testing remains the gold standard method for detecting the virus, rapid test methods have their place and typically involve a small sacrifice in precision for a large increase in convenience and speed. As we learn to live with the virus, techniques that allow rapid detection will be in greater demand, and researchers will rise to the challenge by developing new technologies.

The latter approach involves the use of respiration as a rapid and non-invasive means of testing. “The gold standard for the diagnosis of COVID-19 is a PCR test that requires an uncomfortable nasal swab and time in a laboratory to process the sample and obtain the results,” said Dr. Matthew Exline, researcher involved in the study. . “The breathalyzer test used in our study can detect COVID-19 in seconds.”

The airways are the main site of COVID-19 infection, so it seems intuitive that it could leave tell-tale signs in our breathing. To discern the unique hallmark of COVID-19 in respiration, the researchers evaluated the exhaled breath of 46 ICU patients, 23 of whom had COVID-19. The researchers collected samples of exhaled breath over several days and then analyzed them using a nanosensor system they have developed.

“This novel breathalyzer technology uses nanosensors to identify and measure specific biomarkers in respiration,” said Pelagia-Irene Gouma. “This is the first study to demonstrate the use of a nanosensor breathalyzer system to detect a viral infection from impressions of exhaled breath.”

The researchers identified a COVID-19 breath fingerprint that included a high concentration of exhaled nitric oxide. This characteristic respiration profile was helpful in identifying COVID-19 in patients and demonstrated 88% accuracy.

“PCR tests often miss early COVID-19 infections and results can be positive once the infection has resolved,” Exline said. “However, this non-invasive breath test technology can detect early COVID-19 infection within 72 hours of the onset of respiratory failure, allowing us to quickly screen patients in a single step and exclude those without COVID-19 with mechanical ventilation “.

To study in PLUS ONE: Detection of exhaled nitric oxide for the diagnosis of COVID-19 in critical patients

Via: Ohio State University

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