COVIDAir: A New Technology To Detect COVID-19 Patients

This study aims to determine the validity of a new method to detect COVID-19 by characterising molecules in exhaled air

Description of the Study:

  • Title: COVIDAir.
  • Principal Investigators: It is led by scientists from the Institute of Infectious Agents of the Hospices Civils de Lyon, in collaboration with scientists from the Institute for Research in Catalysis and Environment of Lyon (IRCELYON, CNRS/University Claude Bernard Lyon 1), the Institute of Analytical Sciences (ISA, CNRS/University Claude Bernard Lyon 1) and the International Centre for Infectious Diseases Research (CIRI – INSERM/CNRS/University Claude Bernard Lyon 1).
  • Centres of Implementation: The screening tool was implemented at the Palais des Sports screening centre in Gerland after initial testing at the Croix Rousse hospital in Lyon in late 2020.
  • Study Population: For the time being, more than 1,000 volunteers have been included out of the 3,300 planned.
  • Study Type: Clinical study.
  • Design: This new technology will be tested and validated and compared with the reference technique (RT-PCR).
  • Methods: The diagnosis of this new method is performed with a mass spectrometer, by characterising molecules in exhaled air.

Objectives of the Study:

Principal Objective: To redefine the standard for the diagnosis of respiratory infections, such as COVID-19.

More about this Study:

Scientific Context: The air we exhale can contain up to several thousand molecules, produced in particular by our metabolism. The composition of the air we exhale varies according to our state of health. During an infection, our cells, enslaved by the virus, are busy manufacturing viral proteins and abandon a large part of their normal activities. Thus, the molecules that a sick person expels through their lungs may differ from those of a healthy person.

Using breaths analysed in hospitalised patients, the specific signature of COVID-19 infection has been found and integrated into software that allows a rapid result to be obtained in a few tens of seconds.

COVIDAir allows this project to take another dimension and evaluate the performance of this new diagnostic method in real-life conditions, in the context of population screening. Moreover, the analysis of the results will not stop at COVID-19, but will also explore the performance of this device for the diagnosis of other respiratory viruses, such as influenza.

Added Value: They propose a new method to detect COVID-19 by characterising the molecules present in exhaled air. As simple and fast as a breathalyser, this methodology relies on the incredible performance of a new generation of instruments.

About the instrument: The instrument is able to isolate a molecule present in infinitesimal quantities. The instrument in question is a mass spectrometer and is the result of the latest technological developments of the Swiss manufacturer Tofwerk. The Vocus PTR-TOF combines a sensitivity and resolution that make it unequalled in the world: it is able to isolate a molecule present in infinitesimal quantities (one molecule in 1014 molecules). In technical terms, its sensitivity is of the order of ten ppq (parts per quadrillion), with a mass resolution of more than 10,000.

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Hospices Civils De Lyon
Institute Of Analytical Sciences

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