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.
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