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Imec, MiDiagnostics Ink Licensing Agreement To Commercialize COVID-19 Breathalyzer

NEW YORK ─ Imec, a Belgian R&D organization focused on digital and nanotechnologies, said Thursday it has inked a licensing agreement that enables MiDiagnostics, a spinoff of Imec and Johns Hopkins University, to start the commercialization of a COVID-19 breathalyzer.

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Leuven-based Imec said its technology enables exhaled breath aerosols and droplets to be captured for viral RNA screening using ultrafast PCR technology developed by MiDiagnostics.

The company added that in the past year, it has developed a breath sampler that leverages its chip technology, and clinical studies involving the sampler conducted with the University of Leuven and the university hospital showed it can quickly and reliably capture SARS-CoV-2 in exhaled air and detect viral RNA.

The R&D organization added that it has also developed a proof-of-concept sampling instrument that integrates its breath sampling technology and ultrafast PCR.

Katleen Verleysen, CEO of Leuven-based MiDiagnostics, said in a statement that the firm aims to make its ultrafast PCR technology, which currently operates using nasal swabs, compatible with the exhaled air samples.

A first prototype will be tested at a Brussels airport in November in collaboration with the airport, Ecolog, and Eurofins, she said.

COVID-19 PCR-testing centers at the airport are currently operated by Ecolog.

Imec said it is also investigating how its technology can be applied to diagnose cancers and other airborne infectious diseases.