Each breath a person exhales contains a mixture of molecules that can be produced by bacteria or by bodily fluid. Diseases produce a unique mixture of molecules which function as ‘biomarkers’ and can tip medical professionals off to the presence of a disease. Biomarkers are a unique signature of a disease, which means that by identifying them, doctors have the ability to make an early diagnosis and start life-saving treatment.
One disease that ANCON’s NBT has shown great promise in diagnosing is lung cancer. Lung cancer has a poor survival rate and it starts as small nodules in the lung, which turn cancerous and start producing different volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to those found in healthy cells. The VOCs enter the bloodstream at low concentrations and with a machine that is sensitive enough, these VOCs can be detected at an early stage.
As time goes on the cancer will develop and as the tumor enlarges, the center will receive less oxygen and will produce more non-oxygenated compounds. By measuring the profiles of the non-oxygenated VOCs, the stage of the cancer can be determined. Additionally, VOC biomarkers are detectable in Asthma, Breast Cancer, Tuberculosis, Influenza, Colorectal Cancer, Diabetes and other gastric diseases. Ancon’s NBT device has great potential to improve treatment for this disease, which currently requires an expensive and invasive CT scan to make a diagnosis. But with NBT technology, the lung cancer biomarker could be discovered at a much earlier point and the test can be applied to a much wider population of at-risk individuals.
Current technologies lack the sensitivity that is required to generate profiles suitable for the effective diagnosis of lung cancer. In contrast, ANCON’s NBT is around 100x more sensitive and works by counting the individual biomarkers, affording the potential to detect single molecules. Simply put, the advantages of NBT technology’s increased sensitivity are:
Unlike gas chromatography mass spectrometry, NBT is its own portable laboratory, consisting of a desktop enclosure that examines the biomarkers on a molecular level through several stages, providing an unprecedented detection sensitivity. NBT achieves this sensitivity by physically amplifying the biomarker molecule so that it can be easily detected with a laser counter. NBT can amplify a biomarker by nearly one billion times its mass.
NBT allows for a single ion, as well as a single molecule, to be detected and identified. Although the techniques involved are cutting edge, they possess an elegant simplicity which allows the NBT technology to be widely affordable at a fraction of the cost of current technologies.
With cancer, once a patient displays the symptoms of the disease, it is often too late, as tumours have grown too large and have spread to other areas of the body. In contrast, cancers found during early screening examinations are more likely to be smaller, confined to a localized area and minimal in size.
Early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment and extending the life expectancy of patients. Patients who have lung cancer detected early have a survival rate of greater than 50%. Early cancer detection requires two major components: education to promote early diagnosis and access to screening technologies.
Ancon Medical has developed a revolutionary technology that can bring cancer detection to the forefront of science. With Nanoparticle Biomarker Tagging (NBT) technology, medical providers can screen for cancers, as well as a range of other diseases, simply by testing a patient’s breath. The results can alert doctors to the presence of the cancer and the need for further diagnosis, leading to life-saving treatment that can stop the cancer before it can progress.
With further development, an NBT technology device could be available for a cost as low as $29,000, making it a very affordable option for healthcare and emergency response scenarios. Furthermore, an NBT device with cloud connectivity could be reprogrammed at a moment’s notice at the point-of-care facility in order to screen for new diseases.
Dr Wesley Baker, President of Ancon Medical, gives commentary:
“Ancon Medical’s NBT device can change the story on TB, Ebola, Cancer and a host of other diseases that inflict unnecessary misery on the poor. With funding, research and commercialisation we can give healthcare workers the tools they need to fight these terrible diseases.”