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Breathe Here


A new startup company in California called Metabolomx is reporting that a study it conducted with researchers at the Cleveland Clinic shows that its cancer breathalyzer can tell with 83 percent accuracy whether a person has lung cancer, reports Technology Review's Katherine Bourzac. The company also says that the study, published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, shows that the test can tell the difference between different subtypes of lung cancer. "Existing tests for lung cancer … cause too many false positives, which means patients face unnecessary biopsies or exposure to radiation from imaging, and none are currently approved by Medicare," Bourzac adds. "A breath test promises much simpler, safer screening."

The test works by detecting tumor biomarker that can end up in the breath. "In the current version of the system, a patient must breathe through a tube for about five minutes. Pumps draw the breath through a series of filters to dry it out and remove bacteria, then over an array of sensors," Bourzac says. "The sensor array consists of colored reactants that are each sensitive to a different group of volatile compounds. Depending on what's in the sample, different spots in the array — 24 in the version used for the initial clinical trial, 130 in the current one — will change color to varying degrees."

The Scan

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.

EHR Quality Improvement Study Detects Demographic-Related Deficiencies in Cancer Family History Data

In a retrospective analysis in JAMA Network Open, researchers find that sex, ethnicity, language, and other features coincide with the quality of cancer family history information in a patient's record.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked to Gut Microbiome Community Structure Gradient in Meta-Analysis

Bringing together data from prior studies, researchers in Genome Biology track down microbial taxa and a population structure gradient with ties to ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

Ancient Greek Army Ancestry Highlights Mercenary Role in Historical Migrations

By profiling genomic patterns in 5th century samples from in and around Himera, researchers saw diverse ancestry in Greek army representatives in the region, as they report in PNAS.