November 11, 2020 | News & Notices Tohoku University and Shimadzu Jointly Announce a New Breath Test for Detecting COVID-19

Tohoku University announced the development of a non-invasive breath testing technology for COVID-19 through collaboration with Shimadzu Corporation, the leading provider of analytical instruments and solutions. The technology termed ‘breathomics’ analyzes viral and host biomolecules contained in breath aerosols that can be collected by freely breathing into the newly-developed device for five minutes. The research team aims to further apply the breathomics technology to other infectious and non-infectious diseases to bring closer the future health monitoring based on breath sampling.

Research Abstract

For minimizing both spread of COVID-19 and health hazard caused, there is an urgent need for an effective test that can simultaneously screen the disease and give other diagnostic indications such as disease severity and prognosis. To this end, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine and the Institute of Aging Medicine, in collaboration with Shimadzu Corporation, worked on the development of the breathomics analysis system to combat SARS-Cov-2 pandemic and more.

The system developed here utilizes a technology termed ‘breathomics’, which means comprehensive analysis of biological components in exhaled aerosol using mass spectrometry. Its major benefits over other testing techniques are non-invasive nature of aerosol sampling and the wealth of information that can be associated with various biological implications.

For aerosol sample collection, Tohoku University developed the high-performance collection device that acquires approximately 1 mL of exhaled breath condensate (EBC) by the subject’s own manipulation in five minutes of breathing at rest. Hence the system allows for future point-of-care testing needed for early detection and safe isolation of infected personnel.

The multifaceted analysis data delivered by the system include the levels SARS-Cov-2 proteins, other viral proteins, and the host proteins and metabolites involved in inflammatory responses. In addition to giving direct indication of viral infection, results can be used to evaluate the stage and conditions of the disease, to estimate the risk of disease progression, and to predict prognosis and complications. Further studies with additional input may enable prediction of metabolic diseases such as cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, lifestyle-related diseases, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, and health management for preventive medicine. As such, we aim to bring closer the future form of personalized and remote healthcare system which we call ‘breath medicine’.

*For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures