California, April 19: University of Southern California (USC) are working on the trials of a simple cancer-spotting breath test which will be similar to Breathalyzer and may be the future of cancer detection. Participants have volunteered to see if the ‘BreathLink’ app and it’s partner device the Breathscanner can detect cancer or not.Dr. Michael Phillips of Menssana Research who is leading the project said, “It’s just like a breathalyzer for alcohol, only it’s a billion times more sensitive”. Breathscanner will collect human breath and then BreathLink a cloud application device subjects the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in it to concentration analysis.
BreathLink uses gas chromatography to separate alveolar breath VOC samples and then detects each specific target using surface acoustic wave detection (GC-SAW) or flame ionization (GC-FID) and is sensitive to the picomolar (parts per trillion).
Patients had been identified with active pulmonary tuberculosis accurately in BreathLink and it served has the next step in the process. Detection of lung and breast cancer as well as heart transplant rejection had been included in current clinical studies. The device’s makers hope that these trials if successful will pave the way toward FDA approval.
BreathLink is faster, easier and does accurate detection. Imperial College London developed a different breath test based on selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry is also undergoing trials and has successfully detected esophageal and stomach cancers in 300 patients with 85 percent accuracy.
“At present, the only way to diagnose esophageal cancer or stomach cancer is with endoscopy. This method is expensive, invasive and has some risk of complications. A breath test could be used as a non-invasive, first-line test to reduce the number of unnecessary endoscopies. In the longer term, this could also mean earlier diagnosis and treatment and better survival” commented lead researcher Dr. Sheraz Markar to the European Cancer Congress 2017 in January.Breathscanner touts few complications, fast results and earlier diagnosis. As it’s a mobile point-of-care system it can be used in the field or in an office or anywhere Internet connection is available. It works in tandem with the BreathLink cloud application device which uses proprietary algorithms to identify markers of disease and oxidative stress. After that, it sends data to servers to a central laboratory where all data exchanges are protected by defense-level encryption.
The device BreathScanner will be easily accessible for patients as they just have to breathe into the device for two minutes and in less than ten minutes they will get results.
Dr. Phillips, when asked about whether the patients with cancer really have different breath said, “The answer to that is definitely yes, for breast cancer and lung cancer”. Explaining the answer by Dr. Phillips, Dr. Markar said, “Because cancer cells are different to healthy ones, they produce a different mixture of chemicals.”
Both trials are signing towards the future of cancer detection and both research teams are working on detecting additional kinds of cancer in the breath.