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.
“This technology has the potential to make COVID-19 testing more accessible and rapidly available as well as to guide critical therapeutic decisions.”
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.
“We are pleased to announce that we have entered into this partnership with a highly experienced respiratory disease detection group. Dr. Dweik and his colleagues have successfully led many clinical trials applying mass-spec to identify unique metabolites using the breath. Over the past months, both teams have evaluated and explored a framework to collaborate in the development of the BreathTech technology at Cleveland Clinic and believe that our mass-spec technology has potential to play an important role in providing a quick, non-invasive, easy-to-use screening device that can be utilized in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and airports in an effort to get all of our lives back to normal again,” stated Thomas B. Pickens III, CEO, and CTO of BreathTech.
About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 67,554 employees worldwide are more than 4,520 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,000 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,026-bed health system that includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 18 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2019, there were 9.8 million total outpatient visits, 309,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 255,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org.
About Astrotech Corporation
Astrotech is a science and technology development and commercialization company that launches, manages, and builds scalable companies based on innovative technology in order to maximize shareholder value. BreathTech is developing a breath analysis tool to provide early detection of lung diseases. Astrotech is headquartered in Austin, Texas.