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RJ Lee Group 3 min read

Technique to Rapidly Identify COVID-19 from Human Breath Shows Promise, Developed by RJ Lee Group and Partners


RJ Lee Group

A partnership of science and health experts was founded to study COVID-19 markers in hu­man breath, and concept how ultra-rapid testing for COVID-19 can help prevent the spread of the virus. A method for identification that shows promise is Proton Transfer Reaction Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS). A high sensitivity mass spectrometer was combined with artificial intelligence and used to develop a method for the identification of COVID-19 in human breath within seconds. A series of machine learning models was used to correctly identify 166 out of the 170 negatives and 164 out of the 169 positives. The model accuracy was up to 97.3%. These results suggest that the developed method for the identification of COVID-19 infection is a promising tool, which can give both rapid and accurate results.

The analysis of volatile organic compounds in human breath holds valuable clinical poten­tial. Testing for volatile biomarkers in clinical breath samples offers an option for develop­ing rapid and potentially inexpensive disease screening tools. Breath sampling, unlike nose swabs, is non-invasive. Results can be obtained within a minute, and it allows infected persons to quickly start preventive measures such as isolation, and use of personal protec­tive equipment.

PTR-MS technology could be used at worksites, office complexes, campuses, hospitality, and entertainment venues to mass test individuals before entering poten­tial “hot spots” for infection. As businesses rethink and amend back-to-work programs, this technology could be part of the suite of tools for stopping spreading. Testing could be done even without persons leaving vehicles in rapid style.

Testing in this study was performed at two locations with varying population demographics, and both test­ing sites underwent individual IRB approval. One was the Mercyhealth North Emergency Department in Janesville, WI and the other location was in the greater Detroit area with the Henry Ford Health System. This research partnership also includes Edelweiss Technol­ogy Solutions; Mercyhealth out of Janesville WI; Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, MI; QuantMD in Pitts­burgh, PA; the Department of Bioengineering at Uni­versity of Pittsburgh, and Practical Sustainability LLC in Maryville, MO.

Click Here to see the full study results.

A method for the identification of COVID-19 biomarkers in human breath using Proton Transfer Reaction Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry – EClinicalMedicine (thelancet.com)