A clinical trial led by University of Leicester respiratory experts into a potentially ground-breaking “breath test” to detect lung cancer is set to get underway at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, UK. It is hoped that the LuCID (Lung Cancer Indicator Detection) program will lead to a non-invasive method of diagnosing lung cancer in the early stages. The company behind the device, Cambridge-based Owlstone Nanotech Ltd, carried out a health economic analysis and determined that detection of early-stage lung cancer could be increased from the current 14.5% to 25% by 2020. It is estimated this could save 10,000 lives and £250m of NHS money. Four publicly funded health care systems in the countries of the United Kingdom are referred to as the National Health Service (NHS). The “breath-test” device works by measuring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at low concentrations in a patient’s breath and offers a cheaper and smaller alternative to existing detection technologies. Supported by the University of Leicester’s enterprise and business development team and Leicester’s Hospitals, Owlstone was awarded £1m by the NHS Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) towards the second phase of the LuCID project – the clinical trials. The aim is to further evaluate Owlstone’s GC-FAIMS (Gas Chromatography – Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry) sensor in a rapid-access lung cancer clinic at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, starting later this year. If successful, the project will pave the way to evaluate the technology in GPs’ surgeries and other hospitals.
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