Insights from industry: Interview with News Medical

Published on: 25 May 2023, under Cancer


We are delighted to see an interview featuring Dr. Mariana Leal published with News Medical. Dr. Leal is a Lead Translational Scientist here at Owlstone Medical, and answered many questions about her role, and provided expert insight into our technology and upcoming projects. Although Breath Biopsy® technology can be used to study many diseases, we began our mission to bring breath analysis to the clinic for the purpose of early detection of cancer. This is an important area that Mariana focuses her work within, in the interview stating:

“Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death worldwide (…), however, currently, the only suitable methods (e.g., CT scanning) are a limited resource that requires specialist capabilities and are not easily accessible to the majority of the population.”

She then goes on to explain, “A breath test for lung cancer represents a non-invasive, preferable approach for screening that would be more affordable, easy to use, and accessible than current options.”

Breath analysis is especially promising as a tool for early diagnostics tests, to stratify patients and measure target engagement, however, breath biomarkers have historically been slow to translate to use in the clinic. One of the major reasons for this is the challenge of detecting a low signal during the early stages of cancer development. Owlstone Medical has pioneered an EVOC probe approach which we believe will help to overcome this problem and pave the way toward adopting breath biomarkers for the early detection of cancer, and as part of broader cancer research in clinical trials. Dr. Leal discusses the progress of our EVOC probes for detecting lung cancer: “… we are also developing probes with more complex structures. For example, we conjugate the substrate of enzymes with a volatile tag (…) and the release of this tag and its detection in breath is associated with the presence of the target enzyme that cleaved our probe.”

She also discusses the progress of our ongoing proof-of-concept Evolution study aimed to assess the feasibility of using EVOCs for cancer detection: “We evaluate whether administering a probe compound, specific to tumor-associated extracellular β-glucuronidase, produces a unique EVOC on breath of a patient with lung cancer.”

Here at Owlstone Medical, we are dedicated to advancing the field of VOC analysis on the breath for use in the detection of disease, and we have the technical knowledge, international collaborations, and experience to be successful in a challenging, but ever-advancing field. This is especially critical in oncology, where we urgently need new technology for early diagnosis. To read case studies about how volatile metabolite detection can revolutionize how we diagnose, monitor, and treat cancer, click here.

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