Breath test for lung cancer mutations

Scientists have shown that minimal genetic changes can be detected in vapour containing cells engineered to replicate early stage lung cancer. The findings could potentially be used to develop a breath test for lung cancer that is able to distinguish between different gene mutations.

Certain compounds detectable in the breath are known to be potential biomarkers for cancer, but it was not known is whether they reflected specific mutations. To study this, researchers from the University of Liverpool and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology engineered bronchial airway cells to replicate early lung cancer, before analysing the vapour that had collected in the container used to grow them.

The researchers found that it was possible to distinguish between two different types of gene mutation that were present in the cells.

‘These findings tell us that it’s theoretically possible to develop a test that could diagnose early lung cancer in the breath of patients’, said Dr Mike Davies at the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Research Programme, who led the research.


The test could be used in early diagnostics to identify high-risk patients, explained the researchers. ‘It could also be used to help match patients to the right treatment by providing doctors with a snapshot of the genetic makeup of their individual tumour’, Dr Davies added.

Read the full, original story: Prototype lung cancer breath test checks for gene mutations

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