A study has presented a new technology which can tell whether people are likely to have gastric cancer. The technology, called nanoarray analysis, examines the changes in the level of certain compounds in the exhaled air. The study was performed by the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) and it will be published in the journal Gut.
Nanoarray can detect the risk of stomach cancer in patients and if the results show that the risk is high they will be confirmed by means of a conventional endoscopy. Professor Hossam Haick of the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute (Haifa), the lead author of the study, explained that what is innovative about this test is the fact that it is rapid, easy to use, it is not sensitive to confounding factors and moreover it is non-invasive and has a low cost.
The study involved 484 people. Two breath samples were collected from each participant. The samples were collected after a 12-hour fast and a 3-hour abstention from smoking. 99% of the participants had already been diagnosed with gastric cancer, but they had not been treated with radiotherapy or chemotherapy. The subjects were also questioned about their drinking and smoking habits and tested for infections with Helicobacter pylori, which is an important factor of stomach cancer risk.
For the first samples scientists used GCMS, a technique which examines the different volatile organic compounds which are found in exhaled breath. Nanoarray analysis was conducted on the second sample in combination with pattern recognition. The first sample analysis suggested that cancer participants and healthy ones had different breath prints. The second sample was examined by nanomaterial sensors which read the chemical signal or pattern in the breath linked with stomach cancer.
According to the researchers GCMS technique is very costly and it cannot be used for screening purpose since it requires a long time to process the results and many experts to operate it. On the other hand nanoarray analysis is not only accurate but also much cheaper and simpler. The breath test can even detect early and advanced stages of stomach cancer.
Professor Mark Lawler described the new technique as a revolutionary way to detect gastric cancer:
“It’s a totally new way of looking at things that says let’s look at the genetic make-up of bowel cancer cells and use that to drive… new diagnostics that allow us to say this particular treatment will work for this patient.”