Israeli technology that can 'sniff out' COVID-19 infections begins trials

Nanoscent's method itself was previously and successfully tested by researchers at the Technion University in conjunction with medical researchers at the Rambam Health Care Campus back in mid-March.

Magen David Adom medical team members, wearing protective gear, are handling a Coronavirus test from a patient in Jerusalem, April 7, 2020. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Magen David Adom medical team members, wearing protective gear, are handling a Coronavirus test from a patient in Jerusalem, April 7, 2020.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Israeli start-up Nanoscent is currently in trials with Sheba Medical Center, testing technology that can “smell” COVID-19 in less than 30 seconds.

Dozens of trial participants have already been successfully tested for coronavirus infections. In light of this success, Magen David Adom (MDA) has begun incorporating the testing method into their drive-thru testing stations located across the country. A number of hospitals have also followed suit, including the Sourasky Medical Center and the Poriya Medical Center.
With the technology, suspected coronavirus patients blow air through their nose into a plastic bag fitted with sensor chips that can electronically pick up on scents emitted by COVID-19 – diagnosing the patient in half a minute, allowing for early detection of the virus in a world where the current methods take hours at best.
Current testing methods in Israel incorporate the common PCR (polymerase chain reaction) approach, which takes several hours – causing bottlenecks in testing while hindering the government's ability to isolate and stymie the viral spread in hot spots and problem areas.
Nanoscent's method itself was previously and successfully tested by researchers at the Technion University in conjunction with medical researchers at the Rambam Health Care Campus back in mid-March.
Currently, Israel focuses its testing efforts primarily on citizens who are showing symptoms related to COVID-19 infections, instead of a blanket randomized method which would provide the government with more useful information. This is mainly due to the availability of testing kits in the early stages of the pandemic and the extended time these tests take to complete full diagnostics.
As the viral spread has progressed, new methods have been made available. Recently, methods such as molecular testing and patient pooling – combining and testing up to 64 individual samples - have allowed laboratories to undergo the simultaneous testing of dozens of individuals in one fell swoop.
However, the current methods lack the consideration of asymptomatic cases and widely fail to test those believed to be virus free. If such information was available, it would be vital when putting proper restrictions in place for the public.
This is where Nanoscent comes in. Its breathalyzer test includes a component, manufactured by DreamTech in South Korea, that connects directly to the nose. From there it connects to the plastic bag, which contains the odor sensors Nanoscent programmed to sniff out COVID-19.
Why is this important? When coronavirus enters the body, there is a decomposition process that occurs within the nose/pharynx of the infected subject. Nanoscent used this notion to create technology specific to picking up on these scents, allowing for more streamlined testing amid the coronavirus pandemic. In relation to the innovative testing, researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev developed a breathalyzer test of their own that can diagnose coronavirus infections in even less time – 20 seconds to be exact.
Within this method, Nanoscent asserts that even asymptomatic coronavirus carriers would be able to be identified four days after their initial infection. Researchers claim that these tests are around 90% accurate.