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Astrotech Developing New Test for COVID-19

The Austin, TX-based company said it is working on a mass spectrometry technology that can detect coronavirus and other lung diseases from the metabolites found in a person’s breath.

A new test being developed by Austin, TX-based Astrotech could detect coronavirus (COVID-19) and other lung diseases from the metabolites found in a person’s breath.

The company’s BreathTest-1000 is a mass spectrometry technology that was initially developed in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. Army, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Astrotech’s testing technology was designed to be inexpensive, small, rugged, fast, and easy to use for air quality monitoring and trace detection of chemical warfare agents, explosives, and narcotics. The company said in a release the test has also been certified by the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) and is now deployed in air cargo facilities throughout the European Union.

Astrotech said its test can be designed as a field-deployed instrument used at drive-up testing facilities to quickly (under 1 min.) and easily (minimal training required) test for the VOCs found in the breath of COVID-19 and pneumonia infected patients.“With the Coronavirus pandemic impacting millions of families around the globe, we are now very focused on the development of a rugged, inexpensive, quick, and easy to use testing platform that can be deployed to thousands of point-of-care locations worldwide, if approved. This is an incredibly scalable solution that is very much needed to screen as many people as possible in the shortest time," Thomas B. Pickens III, Chairman and CEO of Astrotech Corporation, said in a release.

The sheer number of diagnostics and innovations announced to detect COVID-19 in the last few days has been mind-blowing. Most recently, Danaher’s Cepheid subsidiary won FDA approval for a point-of-care diagnostic that can return a result in 45 minutes. FDA has even granted several Emergency Use Authorization designations to help speed up detection methods.


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