University of Miami Health System, Miller School of Medicine

University of Miami serving as pilot study site for new, rapid coronavirus breathalyzer test

Newswise — Imagine blowing a few breaths into a small tube, placing the tube into a COVID-19 scanner and finding out if you are clear from the novel coronavirus within minutes.

By participating in a short clinical research study that begins this week, the University of Miami is poised to help make that possibility a reality. The University readily agreed to become the first college testing site for a quick, easy, and cost-effective Israeli-produced COVID-19 Breath Analyzer that could revolutionize coronavirus testing if approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“It’s as simple as a kazoo—you just blow into it. And if it works, it will be a game changer,” said Roy E. Weiss, chair of the Miller School of Medicine Department of Medicine and chief medical officer for COVID-19. “It would allow us to test at a fraction of the cost and time of our current nasal swab test and as frequently and wherever necessary. There could even be stations before a football game. People would blow into the tube, get their results in a minute, and then if they’re negative, go in and enjoy the game.”

Starting this week at the Coral Gables Campus, upper class residential students who go to the Pavia Garage for their mandatory, regularly scheduled nasal swab test will be asked if they would also be willing to provide a breath sample. Faculty and staff members who are randomly tested in the next few weeks will also be offered the opportunity to participate. The same testing is being offered to faculty and staff members at the Medical Campus. Those who participate will have to sign a consent form. The University aims to provide about 1,000 test results to BioSafety Technologies, a subsidiary of Israel-based TeraGroup, the breath test developers who are gathering data from the University and other pilot sites across the globe. The technology is now in the evaluation process for FDA approval.

“What we are trying to do is help validate the test by comparing it to the gold standard for COVID-19 detection, which remains PCR [polymerase chain reaction] via nasal swab or saliva,” said Erin Kobetz, vice provost for research and scholarship, who is also leading the University’s testing strategy. “It’s too soon to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of the breath test, but we are hopeful. Research can fill the gap in understanding and keep the U on the forefront of innovation.”

University administrators are interested to see whether the breath analyzer will gain emergency use authorization—a way the FDA has fast tracked many treatments to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“This is probably one of the first studies in the United States to evaluate the use of breath tests to detect COVID-19,” Kobetz said. “If approved, this test could provide the opportunity to assess risk in real time, which may help us more effectively curb transmission.”

In the meantime, the University is also exploring the possibility of integrating the saliva test into its mandatory COVID-19 testing regimen. Recently, residential students from Lakeside Village and Eaton Residential College had the opportunity to provide a saliva swab along with their normal nasal swab—both of which use the PCR technique, the most reliable tests that detect genetic material of the virus.

“We are trying to determine whether a saliva-based test will enhance our capacity to screen at greater frequency or in larger numbers,” Kobetz added.

The COVID-19 Breath Analyzer works similarly to the Breathalyzer devices that police use roadside to take a reading of the alcohol content in the blood of suspected drunk drivers. But instead of using one device for drivers to breathe into that also measures blood alcohol content, the COVID-19 Breath Analyzer includes two steps, said Netta Ness, senior vice president of TeraGroup. First, participants provide a sample by breathing a few puffs into a disposable, sterile TeraTube. The sample is then sealed and fed into a BioSafety station, which is a freestanding scanner that can detect the presence of COVID-19. 

“Your breath is not dry,” Weiss explained. “It contains moisture, and that moisture contains droplets. And if you have COVID, the virus will be in those droplets.”

TeraGroup is hopeful that once the University and other global partners help them gather more data through these pilot studies, the company will be able to sell their test in the United States. The breath tests will cost no more than a cup of coffee, and the BioSafety station can get results from a single test in one minute, Ness added. 

Filters close

Showing results

110 of 4145
Released: 25-Nov-2020 12:45 PM EST
SARS-CoV-2 mutations do not appear to increase transmissibility
University College London

None of the mutations currently documented in the SARS-CoV-2 virus appear to increase its transmissibility in humans, according to a study led by UCL researchers.

Newswise: COVID-19 vaccine candidate tested preclinically at UAB nears first clinical test in people
Released: 25-Nov-2020 11:05 AM EST
COVID-19 vaccine candidate tested preclinically at UAB nears first clinical test in people
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Maryland-based Altimmune Inc., a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, has submitted an Investigational New Drug, or IND, application to the United States Food and Drug Administration to commence a Phase 1 clinical study of its single-dose intranasal COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AdCOVID.

Released: 25-Nov-2020 11:05 AM EST
BIDMC researchers reveal how genetic variations are linked to COVID-19 disease severity
Beth Israel Lahey Health

New research BIDMC-led sheds light on the genetic risk factors that make individuals more or less susceptible to severe COVID-19.

Newswise: blog-pandemic-scenario-planning-lg-feature2.jpg
Released: 25-Nov-2020 11:05 AM EST
Pandemic Ups Game on Scenario Planning in The Arts
Wallace Foundation

Researcher/Author of new toolkit and report seeks to help arts and culture organizations add scenario planning to their strategic toolbox

Released: 25-Nov-2020 10:30 AM EST
Young people's anxiety levels doubled during first COVID-19 lockdown, says study
University of Bristol

The number of young people with anxiety doubled from 13 per cent to 24 per cent, during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown 1, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

Newswise: 249837_web.jpg
Released: 25-Nov-2020 10:20 AM EST
Tracking COVID-19 trends in hard-hit states
Louisiana State University

Currently, there are over 10 million confirmed cases and more than 240,000 casualties attributed to COVID-19 in the U.S.

Released: 25-Nov-2020 9:55 AM EST
More Health Systems Join National #MaskUp Campaign
Cleveland Clinic

Many more health systems are joining the national #MaskUp campaign encouraging Americans to stop the spread of COVID-19 by following safety guidelines. Over just a few days, another 19 health systems with hundreds of hospitals united with 100 health systems nationwide with hospitals numbering in the thousands. The public service campaign is critical to the health and well-being of all Americans. It is a plea from healthcare professionals everywhere: wear a mask and follow other precautions to save lives and help get our country back on its feet.

Newswise: delaterre_jpeg.jpg
Released: 25-Nov-2020 7:35 AM EST
Warwick scientists design model to predict cellular drug targets against Covid-19
University of Warwick

The covid-19 virus, like all viruses relies on their host for reproduction

access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 30-Nov-2020 10:00 AM EST Released to reporters: 24-Nov-2020 5:35 PM EST

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 30-Nov-2020 10:00 AM EST The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.

Newswise: COVID’s Collateral Damage: Germicidal Lamps May Damage Corneas
Released: 24-Nov-2020 5:15 PM EST
COVID’s Collateral Damage: Germicidal Lamps May Damage Corneas
University of Miami Health System, Miller School of Medicine

In a paper published in the journalOcular Immunology and Inflammation, physicians from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine reported that several patients using germicidal lamps in an attempt to sanitize against the coronavirus, developed painful inflammation of the cornea, a condition called photokeratitis.

Showing results

110 of 4145