Innovative new technology could help facilitate diagnosis of mouth cancer in people by identifying biomarkers in someone’s breath so that illnesses can be screened and diagnosed far earlier than is currently possible with equipment like CT scans, MRIs and X-rays.
The nanoparticle biomarker tagging technology, developed by Ancon Medical, can help identify chemical signatures known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are produced by cancerous tumours and other illnesses, Medical Technology reports.
Unlike other similar forms of breath-testing technology, NBT is easily portable and the device is able to amplify biomarkers from a disposal breath component by almost a billion times its mass, which allows for the detection and identification of molecules and single ions that are indicative of disease.
Wesley Baker, Ancon Medical CEO, explained: “The sensitivity of the device means that we can detect far lower concentrations of the VOCs in question, which speeds up how long each sample must be taken for. We need just one minute’s worth of breath.”
This information is then analysed by artificial intelligence once the VOCs have been identified, with thousands of pieces of data able to be analysed very quickly and with increasing accuracy as the amount of data being processed increases.
“By detecting novel chemicals from breath there is no need to rely on inaccurate methods of diagnosis which give ambiguous results. For instance, X-rays can show darker or lighter areas that may indicate cancer but often just come from harmless sources.
“These indicators are of course normally pursued further and can lead to biopsies and a huge amount of anxiety. The ability to take a simple breath screening test will enable patients to have results fast and no unnecessary explorational procedures,” Mr Baker went on to say.
Stats from the NHS show that globally mouth cancer is the sixth most common form of the disease, although it is far less common here in the UK. Approximately 8,300 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer annually in this country, which is around one in every 50 cancer diagnoses.
Over two in three cases develop in people over 55 years old, with just one in eight affecting those younger than 50. Men are more likely to get it than women, perhaps because on average men typically drink more alcohol.
But the disease can develop in younger adults and it’s thought that the human papilloma virus (which causes genital warts) is linked to the majority of mouth cancers that occur in younger people.
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