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

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees in Oyster Bay

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Ladysmith’s Taylor Walters received the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award and is hard at work pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Human-Computer Interaction at Quest University. (Submitted photo)
Ladysmith teen receives Terry Fox Humanitarian Award for advocating equal access to STEM opportunities

‘Different people think differently and that’s so important for innovation,’ Taylor Walters says

A vehicle is totalled after a driver crashed into the side of a tow truck outside Central Island Towing. (Cole Schisler photo)
Car totalled after colliding with the back of a tow truck in Ladysmith

Nobody was injured, but repairs on the tow truck are expected to cost thousands of dollars

Chemainus Art Group creates mural mosaic to celebrate a joyful spring. (Photo submitted)
Art group members celebrate a joyful spring in Chemainus

Each of 33 squares pushed together into one mural

A police car at the scene of a child’s death Friday, April 9, at the Falcon Nest Motel in Duncan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
RCMP investigating child’s death at Duncan’s Falcon Nest Motel

First responders attended to a call about an unresponsive child at the… Continue reading

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

Most Read