Clinical need

Developing a patient-friendly breath test for COVID-19

June 16, 2020

Coronavirus spreads through breath, and scientific studies indicate that testing for Covid- 19 in breath could offer true convenience and high reliability. Cambridge based start-up Exhalation Medical Technology is an innovator in breath tests, applying rapid, non-invasive point of care technology to a range of respiratory diseases. This is now being applied to coronavirus testing and the project has received funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

Current SARS-CoV-2 testing is unpleasant, requiring a swab of the back of the throat and nasal cavity. If this is not performed correctly, SARS-CoV-2 may go undetected, meaning infected people continue their normal lives believing they are not infected yet spreading the virus.

The company’s technology builds on Inflammacheck®, used for respiratory disease, which is designed to collect exhaled breath condensate for point of care testing. It’s quick – a full test cycle is just 5 minutes, via a fully automated procedure. Using Inflammacheck® requires neither special training, laboratory equipment or manual sample handling and as such this technology lends itself to mass testing at any location including hospitals, drive-through testing centres, care homes, airports, schools and in the workplace.

This Innovate UK supported project will allow the company to work with colleagues at Aliksir and Zimmer & Peacock to re-engineer Inflammacheck® and re-purpose an existing sensor to facilitate safe testing for SARS-CoV-2. They aim to bring a rapid, reliable, non-invasive test for SARS-CoV-2 to market, providing an instant result at the point of care.

To ensure the technology is robustly evaluated, Exhalation Medical Technology has partnered with research facilities in the UK. Their sensor technology is being independently tested at Imperial College London, under the supervision of Professor Wendy Barclay, Imperial Consultants. They then plan to conduct clinical trials at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, under the supervision of Consultant Respiratory Physicians Dr Thomas Brown and Professor Anoop Chauhan. They plan to start testing in June.

Exhalation Medical Technology also has the support of SEHTA (South East Health Technologies Alliance) to communicate the details of this innovation and how to make this new test available to as many people as possible.

News & Analysis

by Editor