November was Lung Cancer Awareness Month and healthcare advocates like the American Lung Association used the event to press for additional research, improved early detection, more effective screening and better treatment.
Responding to these needs, one American medical device maker has developed a non-invasive screening technology that could alert to the presence of lung cancer early in its development, and at just a fraction of the cost of current methods. Ancon Medical Inc., based in Minnesota’s “LifeScience Alley,” is seeking funding to finalize and prepare for the production of its Nanoparticle Biomarker Tagging (NBT) device, a revolutionary technology which can detect an array of infectious diseases and viruses simply by checking an individual’s breath.
An important element of lung cancer treatment is early detection and a new study released on Nov. 5 showed that screening with computed tomography (CT) scans can be cost-effective while saving lives.
“Ancon Medical’s NBT device is a much better alternative than CT scans early on and far cheaper too,” said Wesley Baker, Ancon Medical president. “It can screen a wide range of at-risk individuals, allowing doctors to discover the presence of lung cancer at an early state. For many, once lung cancer is diagnosed, it is too late, as more than half die within one year.”
“The only thing preventing Ancon Medical from further developing its NBT device is financial resources needed,” Baker said. NBT technology works by detecting “biomarkers,” which are DNA-protein controlled volatile organic compounds (VOCs) metabolites specific to diseases. These VOCs are the “fingerprints” of disease and no technology is as sensitive at finding these biomarkers as NBT. NBT is far more sensitive than current screening methods.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., behind only heart disease. Lung cancer itself accounts for about 27 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S.
Detecting lung cancer can be a challenge for medical professionals. Standard x-rays are not effective at finding lung cancer tumors in their earliest stages, when doctors have their best opportunity to cure individuals of the disease. And while low-dose CT scans can find lung cancer, these devices also expose individuals to dangerous levels of radiation.