Lung cancer breathalyzer to be used in NHS hospitals
The device actually invented by engineer Billy Boyle to detect explosives in public places such as airports and battlefields was redesigned to meet the needs of the healthcare industry and after his wife Kate Gross was diagnosed with colon cancer, the device was refocused on medical applications.
When a person develops certain types of cancers such as the lung cancer, minute and unique chemical traces are produced and found in their breath. Finding the presence of such chemicals long before the symptoms are obvious can increase the survival rates and people can overcome the disease when diagnosed early enough.
While the survival rate of stage 1 lung cancer is 75%, those who are diagnosed at stage 4 have only a 5% survival rate. Mr Boyle said, “The great thing is the technology exists today. We already have the microchip, we’re working on small handheld devices in (a) GP’s office. It’s important to get the clinical evidence first. But we think we can have systems available, proven, within the next two years.”
He said that the company’s goal is to save the NHS £245m however, the more important goal is to save 10,000 lives. At age 36, Kate died early on Christmas day. He said that he and his wife had discussed the different applications of the technology developed by Owlstone in the field of medicine.
He said that he has worked together with his wife in cancer wards in Addenbroke’s in Cambridge and down in London. He said that he is trying to answer the questions around cancer with his innovative study.