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New lung cancer detection instrument moving to clinical trials stage

Owlstone Nanotech, the developers of a promising new lung cancer detection instrument have announced they are now moving their device into clinical trials. The trials are said to begin later this year in a rapid access lung cancer clinic at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, England.

The device, which relies on breath tests as a means of diagnosing the disease, is hoped to be a non-invasive method for earlier detection.

The new device is hoped to ultimately boost lung cancer survival rates by increasing the rate of early lung cancer detection from the current figure of 14.5 percent to 25 percent by 2020. This would equate to around 10,000 lives saved and a £250 million (US$386 million) saving in medical costs.

The instrument relies on the detection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the breath, compounds that are produced by the body and can serve as a biomarker for lung cancer if their presence is heightened. It detects this by separating and identifying different chemical ions depending on how they react when subjected to an electric field.

By relying on breath tests as a means of diagnosing the disease, it is hoped that the device could a non-invasive method for earlier detection and ultimately boost lung cancer survival rates.

"This project will seek to identify and evaluate biomarkers in order to improve the accuracy and reliability of breath diagnostic methods," says Dr Salman Siddiqui from the University of Leicester, who will lead the clinical study.

If the trials prove successful, they could bring the presence of such tools in GP clinics and hospitals one step close to reality.

"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," says Owlstone co-founder, Billy Boyle. "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."

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