A research team from the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals in the United Kingdom are testing a new ‘breath test’ device aimed to detect lung cancer in early stages. The device is called GC-FAIMS (Gas Chromatography — Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry) and was developed by a company called Owlstone Nanotech Ltd. based in Cambridge.
Owlstone Nanotech projected that early detection of lung cancer could be increased from the present 14.5% to 25% by the year of 2020. This projection reflects an estimate of 10,000 lives saved and £250m of NHS’s saved money.
GC-FAIMS measures volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at low concentrations in the patient’s breath and is a cost-effective alternative to the current available detection methods. The NHS Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) granted the company £1m for the initiation of the second phase of the LuCID scheme.
Owlstone, supported by the University of Leicester’s enterprise and business development team and Leicester’s Hospitals, will evaluate GC-FAIMS in a lung cancer clinic at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester. The clinical trials are planned to start in late 2015 with results expected by early 2016. If the device shows efficacy, the plan is to extend the technology in GPs’ offices and other hospitals.
In a recent news release, Billy Boyle, co-founder of Owlstone, said: “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. FAIMS technology has the potential to bring a quick and easy-to-use breath test to a GP’s office. Our team will not rest until we help stop the daily devastation that cancer brings to patients and their families.”
Dr Siddiqui, lead researcher, senior lecturer and adult chest physician at the University of Leicester and Glenfield Hospital added: “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. “This project will seek to identify and evaluate biomarkers in order to improve the accuracy and reliability of breath diagnostic methods. 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.”