Ancon launches human trials in search for flu biomarker

Ancon Medical Inc. has initiated human trials for its Nanoparticle Biomarker Tagging (NBT) technology, aiming to enhance early detection of influenza through a straightforward breath test. The trials, conducted in collaboration with the University of Maryland and led by Professor Donald K. Milton, a respiratory disease expert, aim to identify specific biomarkers for influenza. These biomarkers act as unique disease signatures. NBT technology identifies these biomarkers in exhaled breath, offering a fast, affordable, and effective method for influenza screening once discovered.

The potential benefits of this technology are significant, allowing early disease detection, enabling timely treatment and isolation, and curbing the spread of influenza. The current flu season has underscored the ease with which the virus can disseminate.

This year’s flu season has been particularly severe, with two concurrent virus strains causing a surge in hospitalizations and deaths. The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that influenza claims the lives of up to 646,000 individuals globally each year. Additionally, the H3N2 flu strain in circulation is highly virulent, reducing the efficacy of the flu shot and facilitating human-to-human transmission.

Ancon Medical seeks to address these challenges by leveraging NBT technology and Dr. Milton’s expertise in respiratory epidemiology. His extensive research includes exploring the transmission of influenza through exhaled breath, challenging previous notions that coughing and sneezing were the primary transmission methods.

Once the influenza biomarker is identified, healthcare professionals can program NBT technology to detect the disease’s signature in breath samples. This technology has already identified biomarkers for over 400 diseases, ranging from lung cancer and tuberculosis to Ebola and Zika, making it a versatile tool for disease screening.

NBT technology operates by ionizing samples, tagging ions with specially generated nano-objects, and using lasers to count molecules, enabling the identification of chemicals and measurement of their concentrations. Ancon Medical’s NBT device utilizes this technology to deliver high sensitivity in disease screening while remaining affordable and adaptable to various healthcare settings.

“With proper training, an NBT device can be used by non-medical personnel to conduct screenings. It’s also affordable enough to be brought into small hospitals and clinics. And discovering additional biomarkers would only make the technology more effective, producing even better outcomes for doctors, medical staff, and most of all, patients,” said Ancon Medical CEO Wesley Baker. The company is optimistic about the potential benefits these human trials may uncover and their positive impact on healthcare providers worldwide.