Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Awards 2019

GHP / 2019 Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Awards 13 The device operates at a level of accuracy far higher than anything currently on the market or in development, by detecting and analysing individual particles contained in an individual’s breath, known as biomarkers. Biomarkers are characteristic chemicals, volatile organic compounds or particles produced by the human body and all the individual organisms within it. Each bodily function, process or microorganism produces these biomarkers through everyday activities and survival. This also applies to the functions of deadly diseases, tumours and bacteria. A lung cancer tumour produces a profile of novel biomarkers that can be detected, leading to an effective way of diagnosis. This characteristic biomarker profile is exhaled through the lungs and into the outside world in each one of our breaths each and every day. Neither is it just lung diseases that have this give-away: each disease releases their individual biomarkers into the bloodstream of each person which through normal blood flow and blood oxygenation in the lungs is transferred to our breath. Opening up the scope of diagnosis to almost every kind of disease, malady or abnormality that you can think of. The NBT device is able to analyse a breath sample from just one minute of normal breathing and, through the use of AI, give a diagnosis within 10 minutes at the point of care. This eliminates not only a huge amount of anxiety around results but gives the most possible time to begin treatments. What is the scope of the technology? Due to the accuracy and sensitivity of the device, diseases can be detected at a stage even before symptoms develop. A crucial point not only for cancer but perhaps more so for infectious and epidemic illnesses such as Ebola. In fighting Ebola, researchers have found that early screening is the key to preventing the spread of the disease, but it’s a hard disease to diagnose based on the symptoms, which can be common to other diseases like malaria, typhoid fever and meningitis. This screening is made more difficult by the logistics of transporting a laboratory setting to rural communities where outbreaks often occur. Once someone has the symptoms of Ebola, it’s already too late and that person can spread the disease. It’s crucial to find diseases like Ebola at its earliest point of infection, before they are showing the signs. However, once the body is infected, it will begin giving off the chemical ‘fingerprints’ of the disease, and an NBT device can find these chemical signals, even at their faintest concentrations. The incubation period for Ebola in humans is between two and 21 days, which is the time elapsed from infection until when symptoms begin to show. Ebola can’t be spread until symptoms are shown, so discovering it early is vital for prevention efforts. Other early detection methods for Ebola require a blood sample, which takes specialised medical training, a laboratory environment and can expose health care workers to some risks. A portable NBT device can give public health officials an easy-to-use screening device that can be brought into a wide range of places, including airports, train stations, rural clinics and other vital locations where it is crucial to find potentially infected individuals before they can spread the disease. ,