Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Breath test 'could help detect cancers earlier'

A doctor looking at a scan Image Diagnosing cancer could become a lot easier if the trial is successful
Celia Hoffman | 05 January, 2019, 03:27

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Center, in conjunction with Owlstone Medical, hope the Breath Biopsy technology will help identify these cancerous patterns.

Researchers funded by Cancer Research are about to start trialing a breathalyzer-like cancer test they hope will be able to diagnose the disease from simple chemical changes to your breath.

The apparatus works by a patient blowing into the machine for 15 minutes which then stores the person's breath in cylinders and they are sent off to be tested to see if odorous molecules called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be detected.

Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, lead trial investigator at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, said: "We urgently need to develop new tools, like this breath test, which could help to detect and diagnose cancer earlier, giving patients the best chance of surviving their disease". Some will be healthy and others will be cancer patients.

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre is now running the PAN Cancer trial for the Early Detection of Cancer in Breath.

The first patients trialling the device are those with suspected oesophageal and stomach cancers at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

The theory behind the technology is that each of us has a unique chemical "fingerprint".

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Cancer could be diagnosed with a breathalyser test in future, scientists have revealed.

Image copyright Science Photo Library Image caption Cancer of the oesophagus may give off a signature molecular smell Who will take part in the trial? "Our goal is, can we spot these subtle differences?", Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical which developed the device, told CNN.

In 2017, researchers told CNN they had developed a device which - using nanorays to analyze breath - can identify Parkinson's disease, various cancers, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease with 86% accuracy.

"The concept of providing a whole-body snapshot in a completely non-invasive way is very powerful and could reduce harm by sparing patients from more invasive tests they don't need", says Boyle.

"Owlstone Medical will be funding the trial directly, however, none of this would be possible without the support and infrastructure provided by Cancer Research UK", Owlstone said in a statement.

There are more than 360,000 new cancer cases in the UK every year, according to Cancer Research UK. This, the researchers believe, can be used as a smoking gun to alert doctors to the presence of cancer.

Mr Cutter said: "I am happy that the some of the kind donations that were raised following the death of Audrey will go towards this device which could potentially save more lives". A non-invasive test using this technology could help to further differentiate those likely to develop esophageal cancer from those less likely to develop the disease. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

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