At-Home Health Diagnostics Using Face Mask

Tech ID: 32008 / UC Case 2020-146-0

Patent Status

Patent Pending

Brief Description

The inventors propose to collect and detect exhaled breath condensate (EBC) on nanostructured face masks to detect viral infections. Nanofibers can provide more than 100 times the surface area of a conventional mask. With this extensive surface area, nanostructured face masks can collect and accumulate virus with high concentrations without the time/equipment-intense amplification step in RT-PCR or RT-LAMP.

By wearing the mask for 6 hours, a person may accumulate 5,400 times more virus than the amount collected in a throat swab specimen. Together, 540,000 times higher virus concentration could be achieved, which is equivalent to 19 cycles in a typical PCR amplification process - the same level as current state-of-art detection schemes for COVID-19 virus.

COVID-19 is used here as an example for the possible application of the invention. Over 50% of COVID-19 patients have delayed or no symptoms while they are spreading the virus. Both healthy and symptomless people could easily conduct self-tests at home if there are at-home detection kits. Face masks have become mandatory personal protection equipment (PPE) around the world, and are widely accepted to stop the spread of COVID-19.




Suggested uses

Consumer-friendly diagnostic tests to detect SARS CoV-2 and other viral infections.

These face masks could also be adapted to collect and accumulate cancer markers from each breath. With the right choice of nanofiber materials, the marker concentration can be dramatically increased to allow at home detection for preliminary self-diagnostics. 

This technique can also be used for daily home testing to monitor a particular disease condition prior to conducting detailed tests in a hospital. Exhaled breath condensate (EBC) is currently used for detection of a variety of health-related conditions, including blood alcohol, multiple cancers, and diabetes. 



Nanostructured face masks can be quickly manufactured and deployed, and made available to billions of users in the US and around the world to allow at home detection for preliminary self-diagnostics of COVID-19. These home tests collect the same high viral concentrations as time- and equipment-intensive laboratory testing techniques, such as RT-PCR or RT-LAMP. This technology would enable healthy and symptomless people to easily conduct self-tests for COVID-19 at home, giving the information necessary to self isolate and/or seek treatment, and help suppress the current pandemic.

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