Astrotech Corporation (NASDAQ: ASTC) stock jumped more than 140 percent on Wednesday morning after its subsidiary, BreathTech Corporation announced 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.
According to the Company 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.
“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.”
Astrotech indicates that 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. 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.
“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.