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Mercyhealth, RJ Lee Group Study Real Time COVID-19 Breath Test in Janesville

JANESVILLE, Wisconsin — Mercyhealth and RJ Lee Group Inc, based in Monroeville, PA, is excited to announce it has recently concluded COVID-19-related research at Mercyhealth North in Janesville. This research is the first step in developing a real time, non-invasive breath test for COVID-19 that provides results within seconds instead of days or weeks. The initial data analysis holds great promise.

The research utilizes a cutting-edge spectroscopic breath analyzer (BA), which allows experts to examine the compounds in exhaled breath associated with infection. “This is truly a novel approach to COVID testing, as it’s neither targeting antigen or antibodies, but rather physiologic changes of infection,” said Jonathan Wistrom, a scientific consultant for RJ Lee Group and operator of Practical Sustainability, a chemistry consulting firm based in Maryville, MO.

This study is one of the world’s largest spectroscopic studies of breath in patients with COVID-19. To gather participants, individuals being tested for COVID-19 using the gold standard nasopharyngeal swab test (or PCR) at Mercyhealth North were asked if they would like to participate in the study. According to Dr. Christopher Wistrom, emergency medicine physician at Mercyhealth, nearly everyone asked jumped at the chance. “Results to-date have shown we can confidently identify those patient’s who are truly sick with COVID-19. The challenge remains in those who test positive by PCR and negative by breath test and trying to figure out what that means. I am so proud of our community in taking this first step and helping us do everything we can to get through this pandemic.”

Nearly 1,000 Rock County residents, age 3-100, participated in study. All participants either presented with symptoms, had been exposed or were being tested before surgery. There was no cost to participate.

The comparison between the PCR and the BA has been encouraging to-date. While the data continues to be examined, so far it has shown significant promise, as the test shows about 84% sensitivity and 84% specificity. This test is attractive to both medical providers, researchers and patients because results are obtained in less than a minute. “It may actually help the world get back to life,” said Dr. Richard Lee, CEO, of RJ Lee Group. “We are delighted with the results, but still need to gather and examine more data.”

According to Dr. Mark Goelzer, medical director and Mercyhealth vice president, this study has been an incredible collaboration. “With all the attention on rapid testing, it took the agility of Mercyhealth and small business to come up with a solution.”

Skyler Wistrom, also a consulting scientist and business manager for Practical Sustainability, hopes the results of the research will help us “get out of limbo and get back to Lambeau.”

Mercyhealth and RJ Lee Group says the next step is to conduct similar studies at other hospital, including Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and to reach out to the FDA for approval for use as a rapid reliable screening tool.

The study is completely funded and supported by RJ Lee Group. People interested in learning more about the study can contact Dr. Christopher Wistrom at cwistrom@mhemail.org.

About Mercyhealth: Mercyhealth is a multi-regional health system with more than 750 employed physician partners, seven hospitals and 85 primary and specialty care locations serving 55 northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin communities. Mercyhealth’s over 7,500 employee/partners care for over 2.4 million patient visits each year. As the top vertically integrated health care provider, they continuously work with a passion for making lives better for the people, families and communities they serve.

About RJ Lee Group Inc:  RJ Lee Group (RJLG) is an industrial forensics consulting firm and laboratory, with a long-standing history of providing high-quality data to the customers in support of legal actions.  RJ Lee Group’s business model is based on one core principle: to apply the most appropriate analytical technique or combination of techniques to answer a customer’s critical question.  A deep understanding of the physics and chemistry behind the analytical process is necessary for a true holistic viewpoint to a given problem. RJ Lee Group has decades of experience with the PTR-MS technique, both in stationary and mobile testing settings for both commercial and government customers. 

Wistrom Brothers LLC is operated by Dr. Christopher Wistrom. Dr. Wistrom is a board certified emergency medicine physician who completed his residency at Henry Ford Health System, Detroit. He has been an innovator with Mercyhealth, headquartered in Rockford, IL, since 2013 and has been involved in multiple novel initiatives. He has joined in collaboration with his brothers Jonathan and Skyler of Practical Sustainability to form Wistrom Brothers LLC as a way of combining their unique skills sets to find practical, sustainable solutions to analytical, scientific, and clinical problems.

 

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