Scientists at the BC Cancer Research Institute are developing a breath test that can determine whether someone has contracted COVID-19. (IHR Imperial BRC Cancer)

Scientists at the BC Cancer Research Institute are developing a breath test that can determine whether someone has contracted COVID-19. (IHR Imperial BRC Cancer)

B.C. researchers generating COVID-19 breath test that could give results in 1 minute

There would be no need for lengthy sample processing in a lab, saving both time and money

A team in Vancouver is developing a COVID-19 breath test that, if successful, could garner results in as fast as a minute.

The technology was originally researched as a way to detect early signs of lung cancer, said respirologist Dr. Renelle Myers, at the BC Cancer Research Institute.

“We knew that our technology had great potential to help find a non-invasive, highly accurate COVID-19 test,” added clinician-scientist Dr. Stephen Lam.

The way it’s done: a patient exhales into a small tube. The breath sample is then analyzed for the presence of COVID-19 using a portable machine.

There would be no need for lengthy sample processing in a lab, saving both time and money for parties involved.

British Columbians currently have access to two primary COVID-19 tests – the nasal cavity swab and a gargle with saline. Results for both take on average 24 hours to come back.

RELATED: Easier, quicker saliva sampling eyed for next stage of COVID-19 testing

Dr. Myers and Lam have already tested 300 study participants, some already COVID-19 positive and others who have displayed mild symptoms of the respiratory virus.

So far, they’ve identified several distinct compounds from COVID-19 positive participants, which will be used to program the technology to identify positive or negative test results.

The research is being partially funded by Concord Pacific, a real estate development company that provided around $125,000 to purchase a portable machine for the team.

Terry Hui, Concord Pacific CEO, said the creation, “has the potential of expanding to also be a quick test for other infectious diseases.”

Hui hopes to see the test used to help families and communities “get back to normal,” by quick-testing at special occasions such as weddings.

READ MORE: New COVID-19 testing machine takes load off B.C.’s virologists and labs (VIDEO)

With success gained from use as a COVID-19 test, researchers then hope to move on using the breath-based technology to detect lung cancer – their original plan.



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC Cancer FoundationCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

It costs as little as $7 to charge an EV at home. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Electric Vehicles a rare sight (in the Kootenays), but change on the way

Electric pickups will increase the appeal of zero-emission vehicles in years to come according to Blair Qualey of the New Car Dealers Association

Linda Krawczyk and her dad Doug Finney enjoyed a ride around beautiful Fernie on Friday thanks to Melanie Wrigglesworth and the local chapter of Cycling Without Age. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Cycling Without Age goes for its first spin

Doug Finney (86) got to enjoy a ride around Fernie

The Cranbrook Community Forest is good to go for mountain biking. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Snow’s done, time to hit the trails

South Country trails are good to go

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Most Read