MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Diagnostics maker Menssana Research is making promising progress with a breath-test that the company says can identify at-risk breast cancer cases in just 6 minutes.
In a study of nearly 250 women at 3 centers in New Jersey, Washington and the Netherlands the test was able to accurately identify women with early stage breast cancer or with abnormal mammogram, Menssana said.
"A negative result on the breath test was especially useful, because it ruled out both breast cancer and an abnormal screening mammogram with almost 100% accuracy," CEO Dr. Michael Phillips said in prepared remarks. "Most normal healthy woman will have a negative breath test result, and they would probably not need a routine screening mammogram."
"Mammograms are often uncomfortable, painful, and require a dose of potentially hazardous radiation. In contrast, a screening breath test is safe, painless, non-invasive and does not expose patients to any radiation," he added.
The New Jersey company, which says that it was "founded on a physician’s daydream," is collecting data in support of its Breathscanner system, a mobile, point-of-care breath analyzer connected to the BreathLink cloud-connected analyzer. The patient breathes into the Breathscanner for 2 minutes and the system does the rest, evaluating levels of volatile organic compounds that may signal health issues.
"Breath testing is probably the least invasive of all diagnostic tests. Even the very elderly and the very ill can generally donate a breath sample without inconvenience," the company says on its website. "But chemical analysis of breath is technically very difficult, which is why breath testing has played only a minor role in medical diagnosis until recently."
Menssana is also examining breathalyzer diagnostics for diagnosis of lung cancer, breast cancer, heart transplant rejection, radiation exposure, and pulmonary tuberculosis, according to a press statement. Most of the company’s studies are conducted with funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority.
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