One of the most common COVID-19 tests involves a long swab pressed deep into the nasal cavities – and while the test can be administered quickly, it has been described as unpleasant and uncomfortable.
Now researchers at The Ohio State University are working on a testing system that would require a simple exhaled breath. Perena Gouma is the primary investigator of a team developing a breathalyzer device that will sample breath for key biomarkers of the infection. She says it would serve as an alternative to current tests that are expensive, can take a long time to get results and require specialized personnel to do the sampling and to analyze the results.
Gouma, director of the Advanced Ceramics Research Laboratory and professor in the College of Engineering, is working with co-investigator Andrew Bowman, associate professor of veterinary preventive medicine. The project was awarded a nearly $200,000 National Science Foundation EAGER grant this month under a program supporting exploratory, early-stage research on untested, but potentially transformative, ideas or approaches.
“Breath analysis is not really a technique that is used widely in the medical field yet, so it is considered early-stage work,” Gouma said. “[We] have a sensor device that detects nitric oxide and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in breath and can be used to tell you about the onset of an infectious disease.”
In addition to nitric oxide, the device examines two other metabolites that could specifically indicate the presence of a COVID-19 infection even in asymptomatic patients. Exhaling once in the breathalyzer may help with earlier detection of the onset of the disease, as well as with monitoring of the severity of the infection, which could help reduce the risk for worsening of the symptoms and allow timely therapeutic intervention, she said.
The new project builds upon Gouma’s invention of a hand-held breath monitor that may provide early detection of flu before symptoms appear prior to her arrival at Ohio State. The COVID-19 breathalyzer involves advances on nanomaterials for detecting specific breath gases at the concentrations of interest for making a diagnosis.
The breathalyzer gives results rapidly (15 seconds response time), it is extremely inexpensive, and it is easy to use so that there is no need for trained personnel to perform the test, Gouma said. The results can be viewed directly on the display or they can be transferred to the physician wirelessly.
“We are working on making these hand-held monitors that will be widely distributed and they’re very inexpensive,” she said. “The technology evolved from the sensors used for monitoring gases in an automotive exhaust – that’s how we started on breath analysis 20 years ago.”
Image Credit: NIAID/NIH/SPL
News This Week
It is the question scientists around the world are trying to answer: how long can the coronavirus survive in the tiny aerosol particles we exhale? In a high-security lab near Bristol, entered through a series [...]
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, researchers are working overtime to develop vaccines and therapies to thwart SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease Many efforts focus on the coronavirus spike protein, which binds the [...]
A research team in Hungary pinched the coronavirus with a fine needle to measure how much force it could take before popping like a balloon. It did not. The native virion of Sars-CoV-2 – a [...]
Headaches, confusion and delirium experienced by some Covid-19 patients could be the result of the coronavirus directly invading the brain, according to a study published Wednesday. The research is still preliminary – but offers several [...]
By Boris M | Published in Coronavirus During the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a lot of information about the virus and its effects on mental health. That’s because coronavirus and the social, financial and psychological [...]
A serious illness suffered by an Oxford University coronavirus vaccine trial participant was most likely “life-threatening”, a bioethics researcher says. But that doesn’t mean the clinical trials will be scrapped. AstraZeneca and Oxford University [...]
Analysis of seven trials finds dexamethasone and hydrocortisone should be given in severe cases. Studies around the world have confirmed that steroids can save lives in the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to new recommendations from [...]
Experts say strong evidence of efficacy needed to avoid approval of inferior vaccines. The rush to immunise populations against Covid-19 could lead to the rollout of a vaccine that is not very effective and [...]
The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the news cycle for the better part of 2020. As guidelines are continually updated to reflect changes in our understanding of how the virus spreads, it is critical people [...]
Scientists in Hong Kong have reported the first confirmed case of reinfection with the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, reportedly backed up by genetic sequences of the two episodes of the 33-year-old man’s infections in March and [...]
Could uncomfortable nasal swabs be swapped for a contactless two-second breathalyzer puff to check for Covid-19 infection? Prof. Hossam Haick thinks so. Haick, a professor of chemical engineering and nanotechnology at the Technion – [...]
The relationship between antibodies for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and immunity, vaccine efficacy, and spread of COVID-19 has received significant attention. Dr. Seheult is back to illustrate why T cells have received less [...]
Images Description Three individuals were admitted to the hospital (ages 46–56; to men and one woman) with a multiday history of symptoms associated with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and underwent [...]