New breath testing device to detect lung cancer

A potentially groundbreaking breath test to detect lung cancer in early stages has been developed and is set to undergo a clinical trial in the UK.

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 16, 2015, 15:48 PM IST

London: A potentially groundbreaking breath test to detect lung cancer in early stages has been developed and is set to undergo a clinical trial in the UK.

It is hoped that the LuCID (Lung Cancer Indicator Detection) programme will lead to a non-invasive method of diagnosing lung cancer in the early stages.

The company behind the device, Cambridge-based Owlstone Nanotech Ltd, carried out a health economic analysis and determined that detection of early-stage lung cancer could be increased from the current 14.5 per cent to 25 per cent by 2020.

The device works by measuring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at low concentrations in a patient's breath and offers a cheaper and smaller alternative to existing detection technologies.

The aim is to further evaluate Owlstone's GC-FAIMS (Gas Chromatography ? Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry) sensor in a rapid access lung cancer clinic at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester starting later this year.

"If you could change only one thing in the fight against cancer, it would be to detect the disease earlier where existing treatments are already proven to save lives," said Billy Boyle, co-founder of Owlstone.

The clinical study is being led by Dr Salman Siddiqui, a clinical senior lecturer and adult chest physician at the University of Leicester and Glenfield Hospital with results of the trial expected in early 2016.

"Lung cancer has one of the lowest 5-year survival rates of all cancers, however early diagnosis can greatly improve a patient's prognosis.

"Current diagnostic procedures such as a chest X-ray, CT scan and bronchoscopy are costly and not without risks so the benefits of a non-invasive, cheaper alternative are clear," said Siddiqui.

"We will also be aiming to establish FAIMS as a faster, less expensive and more portable alternative to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) for breath diagnosis applications," Siddiqui added.