Tech Transfer eNews Blog

U of South Florida researchers develop rapid breathalyzer-style COVID-19 test


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 28th, 2020

Researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) have developed a device similar to a breathalyzer that can tell if a person is infected with COVID-19.

The “Bull Nose” device acts as an initial screening tool and contains sensors that detect the levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in a person’s breath specific to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The device collects the data, which is then stored in a computer database and analyzed if the breath shows signs of the virus.

“If we could take an exhaled breath and then bring it over to the science laboratory and have them analyze it on their mass spectrometer, they could look at the elements contained within the breath,” says Salvatore Morgera, researcher at USF and co-developer of the device. “If you have an infection, the nature of your breath changes, the constituents change. So, the Bull Nose basically takes a look at an exhalation of an individual, and we analyze the breath.”

According to Morgera, the device will be able to detect VOC levels within a minute. In addition, it is a less intrusive method compared to the common nose swab test.

“I’m a firm believer that there are many things that can be done, maybe not everything, but there are many things that can be done without invading the person, and the swab is actually an invasive sort of procedure,” he says.

The research team is applying for different grants and competitions to help advance the Bull Nose to the marketplace. Researcher Tiffany Miller says the device has the potential to mitigate the risks of spreading COVID-19 to a broader community.

“The whole benefit of a rapid test result is that if you are indeed infected, you can have that information and you can quarantine and isolate rather than going to the grocery store and infecting thousands of people,” she comments. “That really was the motivation, at least for me to get involved in this type of field of research at USF.”

Source: The Oracle

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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