British Columbia Research Team Gets Closer with COVID-19 Breath Detector

British Columbia Research Team Gets Closer with COVID-19 Breath Detector

A study sponsored by the Vancouver Coastal Health Research InstituteVancouver General Hospital  and UBC Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 Research Fund, as well as a donation from the Leung Family and Beedie Foundation via the BC Cancer Foundation introduces a superior way to test for COVID-19 via a non-invasive, fast breath sample test. Led by Dr. Renelle Myers, an interventional respiratory physician with Vancouver General Hospital and BC Cancer, as well as BC Cancer Research Institute, recently shared with local media that while the original breath sample test was used for early detection of lung cancer, the research group pivoted during the start of the pandemic to apply the test to COVID-19. This route not only made sense but apparently is showing promise. Similar to testing machines used for testing for explosives or drug residue at the airport, this approach could be a game changer for testing for COVID-19, especially before someone can travel.

Dr. Meyers recently told CTV News, “We’ve currently tested 300 participants in the study, from the hospital—whether they’re admitted with COVID-19 and have agreed to participate in the study—or from a testing site. Apparently, in the study, the participants provide their breath sample in a couple ways, including 1) the subject takes a deep breath, with a full exhale into a tube like container and 2) the subject blows his/her breath into a bag “almost like blowing up a balloon,” with the sample then placed in a bigger tube and thereafter shipped to the lab. Once at the lab, technicians analyze the results in a sophisticated machine.

With funding up to 1,000 participants, the investigator reports they may not need so many samples.

Lead Research/Investigator

Dr. Renelle Myers,  MD, FRCP, Respiratory Medicine


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