Owlstone’s search into breath biomarkers of cancer

June 15, 2017  Source: pharmatimes 97

Owlstone Medical and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) have begun a clinical trial designed to identify biomarkers of cancer in breath samples. The goal is to find volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that indicate the presence of cancer, enabling physicians to make quick, noninvasive diagnoses. 

Investigators running the PAN Cancer trial will collect breath samples from patients with suspected cancer diagnoses. Samples gathered using Owlstone’s CE-marked ReCIVA Breath Sampler will go to the British medtech company’s laboratory for analysis. The laboratory will compare breath samples from patients with and without cancer to find biomarkers unique to people with tumors.

Owlstone is looking for biomarkers of cancers of the bladder, brain, breast, head and neck, kidney, esophagus, pancreas and prostate. The trial’s broad, pan-cancer scope moves Owlstone beyond its initial focus on colorectal and lung cancers.

If the CRUK-partnered PAN Cancer trial uncovers promising breath biomarkers for tumors in other organs, Owlstone could expand its clinical-phase pipeline of diagnostics with tests targeting these diseases. 

The idea behind the current and possible future tests is to use Owlstone’s VOC analysis capabilities to detect changes in exhaled metabolites resulting from cancer mutations. This could help physicians detect cancers earlier.  

Cancer killed 8.8 million people worldwide in 2015 alone, and despite considerable progress in the development of new therapies, survival remains persistently low for several cancer types. According to Owlstone increasing rates of early diagnosis through improved cancer screening and treating when interventions are likely to be more effective offers one of the greatest opportunities to improve the number of cancer patients who survive.

The study trial is being carried out in collaboration with a team of leading cancer researchers at the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Cambridge Centre, the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

By Ashley
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