Shares of Astrotech (ASTC) ran up in pre hours trading on Wednesday, the company announced that it’s subsidiary will partner with Cleveland Clinic to develop rapid COVID-19 breath test.
Astrotech Corporation’s subsidiary, BreathTech Corporation announced today that it has signed a joint development agreement (JDA) with Cleveland Clinic to explore leveraging Astrotech’s BreathTest-1000™ mass spectrometer to rapidly screen for COVID-19 or related indicators. The goal of the agreement is to develop a non-invasive device that will use breath samples to identify COVID-19 strains, with the potential to provide a low-cost, self-service screening option that could be deployed on a large-scale.
Raed Dweik, M.D., Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute, will lead the Cleveland Clinic team. Dr. Dweik and his research team were some of the first to identify that unique volatile organic compound (VOCs) metabolites in the breath can be used to detect certain diseases. Cleveland Clinic researchers have successfully identified and published studies regarding the unique metabolites associated with asthma, heart failure, pulmonary arterial hypertension and liver disease.
“Each person has a unique breathprint made up of thousands of exhaled compounds, which can tell physicians a lot about what’s happening in the body. The advantage of breath testing is that it is non-invasive and non-intrusive. It does not have a dose limitation like x-rays, an amount limitation like blood or saliva tests, or a timing limitation like PCR, blood and urine tests. So breath testing can be performed repeatedly as needed,” said Dr. Dweik. “This technology has the potential to make COVID-19 testing more accessible and rapidly available as well as to guide critical therapeutic decisions.”
COVID-19 is spread through droplet transmission between individuals and contaminated surfaces, with the virus remaining viable for several days on certain materials. Most individuals infected with COVID-19 experience mild to moderate respiratory symptoms. However, vulnerable populations and individuals with co-morbidities are at risk for acute respiratory distress syndrome with high rates of morbidity and mortality. Additionally, asymptomatic carriers have the potential to spread the disease rapidly in high density areas. Thus, the ability to rapidly and accurately identify individuals infected with COVID-19 is an urgent unmet clinical need.
Researchers from BreathTech and Cleveland Clinic will work together to further develop the Company’s BreathTest-1000™ mass spectrometer to include COVID-19 or related indicators within its detection library. The mass spectrometry based device will be developed to detect metabolites associated with respiratory disease and can potentially screen patients within as little as approximately 60 seconds. The joint team plans to open a clinical trial with the technology in the coming months.
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