Diagnosing tumors in advance?One breath is enough.
Analyzing the human breath will soon be enough to identify the most common pathologies.
This is not a fantasy but has been demonstrated by basic research at the University of Bari, completed and published in the most authoritative scientific journals.
Now it’s time to move on to the pre-production phase.
This means applying the research and making it ‘useful’ bydeveloping a device rather like the breathalyzer used to testdrivers’ alcohol levels.With the same ease, just by blowing into a ‘machine’, one will be able to diagnose colon, breast, uterus and prostate cancer. By the end of 2018, the first prototype of the device will be ready.
It will be a‘smart’ diagnostic system –one with zero impact on the patient but with maximum reliability – making it possible to launch large-scale screening and prevention campaigns.
The project is called‘Inside the Breath’, and is one of the 31 clusters, totaling €66 million, funded by the Puglia Region.
INSIDE THE BREATH: THE PROJECT
The human breath contains traces of processes that have developed throughout the whole organism and then been transported to the lungs through the blood and released through the breath.
The‘Inside the Breath’ project aims to detect in the respiratory tract multiple pathologies affecting the gastrointestinal, respiratory, central and peripheral nervous systems, respiratory tract infections, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSA), breast cancer, and genital tract, prostate and rectal cancers. This diagnostic testcan also be used to monitor metabolic disorders induced by surgery or exposure to pollutants.
The ultimate goal, by 2018, is to usethe technique to perform mass screening for early diagnosis of the most common pathologies and carcinomas with a new smart and non-invasive approach: no longer through blood tests but by only one puff into a bag.
Furthermore, it will reduce costs for the public healthcare system as current diagnostic techniques (such as blood tests) become second-level examinations.
To make mass screening a success, it will be crucial to instill patient confidence in such medical innovations.Accustomed to enduring invasive techniques, many mistakenly think that the effectiveness of diagnosis depends on the level of suffering faced. But think, for example, what it may mean for a person already suffering to replace the colonoscopy with a ‘blow in the bag’ test and be assured that the result will be just as effective, if not even betterwith a lower marginof error.
THE WORKING GROUP
Multidisciplinary and highly specialized expertise are the two distinctive features of the cluster.
The leading company is Predict S.r.l., a specialist in diagnostic imaging systems, whose task is to develop the technology and software for analyzing gaseous metabolisms in the exhaled breath, to create the ‘breathomica’ database and to achieve the prototype of the equipment for breath analysis.
The University of Bari (Faculty of Medicine, Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation and Department of Biology) contributes to the project with 10 researchers coordinated by Professors Donato Francesco Altomare and Gianluigi De Gennaro. Authors of numerous scientific articles on the ‘breathomica’they are part of the team that, for the first time in the world, has demonstrated the ability to diagnose colon cancer by analyzing the exhaled breath. They have the task of transferring basic research to the market, finalizing it not only in the early diagnosis of colon cancer, but also applying it to other diagnostic fields.
Wel.Co.Me. S.r.l., a spin-off of the University of Bari, is concerned with applying a model for evaluating the effectiveness of technology on direct beneficiaries and in terms of social and economic impact on the entire community.
RetiMeridiane, a consortium of social cooperatives, carries out systematic surveys by different types of patients and guarantees their sampling and analysis.
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