Team of researchers working on breathalyzer to detect coronavirus

Coronavirus

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A team of researchers from the Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis are developing a breathalyzer that would detect the coronavirus in a matter of seconds.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Mangilal Agarwal, professor of mechanical engineering at IUPUI, are developing a sensor that would be able to identify the COVID-19 scent in breath.

“Breathalyzer is a known technology. Your breath contains a lot of information about your body metabolites and if you can identify a signature that can correlate to particular conditions, you can make a diagnostic test,” said Dr. Agarwal.

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As part of the research, the team collects breath samples from those diagnosed with COVID-19 on a regular basis.

The team at IUPUI has also been working with the Indiana University School of Medicine and the University of Kentucky.

The breath sensor for this project was originally intended to detect hypoglycemia. Once COVID-19 began spreading around the world, the research team switched their focus to detecting the coronavirus.

The idea of using a breath or scent to detect diseases was inspired by a dog’s keen sense of smell.

“In the last 20 years, we’ve gotten the technology to quantify and understand what smells are associated with which diseases,” said Dr. Amanda Siegel, assistant research professor at IUPUI.

Agarwal says this device could have a major impact on people attending social events such as athletic contests, but for him, he feels this device could lead to life going back to normal.

“I feel that if this device or this type of device is out there for rapid testing, we could get back to a normal life,” said Dr. Agarwal.

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