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Clinical Researchers Pursue COVID Detection in Breath with the Vocus PTR-TOF

A team of researchers from IRCELYON and ISA (CNRS/University of Lyon, France) has deployed the Vocus PTR-TOF at the Croix Rousse Hospital in Lyon, France to study breath analysis for COVID-19 detection.

The analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in human breath holds valuable clinical potential and has been the subject of many research studies. The VOCs exhaled in breath directly reflect human metabolism and can therefore indicate a person’s pathophysiological status. Owing to its simplicity, speed, and non-invasive nature, breath analysis has emerged as an extremely promising field for the early diagnosis and/or monitoring of numerous diseases. However, the analysis poses many analytical challenges including the extremely low concentration of targeted biomarkers (typically in the range of parts-per-trillion to parts-per-billion), high sample humidity, and matrix effects.

*Feature Image: Scientists and doctors from CNRS/University of Lyon, France study COVID-19 biomarkers from patient breath using Vocus PTR-TOF

Breath Analysis for COVID-19 Detection with Vocus PTR-TOF

TOFWERK’s Vocus PTR-TOF is a sensitive, online VOC analyzer that can simultaneously detect hundreds of volatile chemicals at parts-per-trillion levels. Gaseous samples are analyzed directly without any required preparation, and results are reported in real time at extremely high rates. For breath analysis, the Vocus PTR-TOF is equipped with a heated breath inlet with a disposable non-rebreathing mouthpiece to avoid the risk of disease transmission between potentially infectious patients. The portable system can be deployed to nearly any site, including clinical exam rooms or screening checkpoints. The ability to simultaneously quantify hundreds of trace VOCs opens the door to powerful breath fingerprinting, whereby COVID-19 or other infections could be detected based on unique metabolic and VOC markers. In contrast to swab-based COVID diagnostic methods that take minutes to hours per sample to collect and analyze, the real-time nature of the Vocus PTR-TOF suggests the potential to screen 1 or more people per minute.

Vocus PTR-TOF with breath inlet at Croix Rousse hospital, Lyon, France
Vocus PTR-TOF with specially designed breath inlet at Croix Rousse hospital, Lyon, France

Breath Analysis-Based Disease Biomarkers of COVID-19

The detection of COVID-19-specific breath biomarkers has great promise for rapid, reliable, and non-invasive diagnosis. With this goal, a research team from IRCELYON and ISA (CNRS/University of Lyon, France) has deployed a Vocus PTR-TOF at the Croix Rousse Hospital in Lyon, France. In collaboration with the Center for Research in Infectious Diseases (CIRI, INSERM, University of Lyon) and two units of the Croix Rousse hospital (intensive care unit and infectious disease unit) they are sampling breath of a wide variety of COVID-19 positive and negative patients to identify biomarkers of this highly infectious virus. The funds for this study have been provided by the Region Auvergne Rhones-Alpes and the French state.

A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Image courtesy of CDC PHIL

Read more about this project to detect COVID-19 with the Vocus PTR-TOF in:

Fortune Magazine:  A breathalyzer for the coronavirus gives instant results

brefECO: Covid-19 : la Région investit aussi dans la recherche 

LCI: Soufflez, vous êtes testé ! Une nouvelle méthode de dépistage expérimentée

Learn More

Vocus CI-TOF Product Page

Monitoring Trace VOCs in Human Breath Emissions with the Vocus PTR-TOF

Webinar: Fundamentals and Applications of Vocus PTR-TOF