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Fields & Applications COVID-19, Mass Spectrometry

Take My Breath Assay

Rapid distinction of COVID-19 from other respiratory conditions could improve patient care and protect healthcare staff – and a new feasibility study suggests that GC-IMS could be applied to the cause.

Single breath samples were taken from adults presenting to hospitals in Edinburgh, UK, and Dortmund, Germany, with potential COVID-19 and subjected to VOC analysis by GC-IMS. Comparison of the VOC results with RT-qPCR swabs and clinical review demonstrated over 80 percent accuracy for GC testing across sites. Sensitivity was 82.4 percent in Edinburgh and 90 percent in Dortmund; specificity was 75 percent and 80 percent, respectively. 

And the tell-tale markers? Aldehydes, ketones, and methanol, according to multivariate analysis. Such approaches could prove a valuable weapon in endemic flu seasons until recent vaccine news becomes a reality. 

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  1. DM Ruszkiewicz et al., EClinicalMedicine (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2020.100609

About the Author

Matthew Hallam

I've always wanted a job that fosters creativity - even when I worked on the assembly line in a fish factory. Outside work, I satisfy this need by writing questionable fiction. The venture into science writing was an unexpected departure from this fiction, but I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to combine my creative side with my scientific mind as Editor of The Analytical Scientist.

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