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.

Black Crow Cannabis is just one of Vernon's many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

Serving alcohol has been altered in the Central Okanagan Public Schools policy regarding rental of school facilities for after-school hours events. (Contributed)
Alcohol option opened up at Central Okanagan school facilities rented for events

Central Okanagan Board of Education retains final approval for after-hours event approvals

Voting day for the upcoming Central Okanagan Board of Education by-election is June 26. (Contributed)
Central Okanagan school board election set for June 26

Kelowna voters will go the polls to fill vacant Kelowna trustee seat

Two bikes that were stolen after a West Kelowna parking garage was looted on April 3. Photo: Crime Stoppers Central Okanagan
Parking garage looted in West Kelowna

A car was broken into and six storage lockers were ransacked

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

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

Ford F-350s have been targeted in the North Okanagan by auto thieves since February 2021, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP data shows. (Gene J. Puskar - The Canadian Press/AP file)
Auto thieves target older Ford F-350s in Vernon: RCMP

Vernon Mounties remind all motorists no vehicle is immune to auto crime

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Most Read