Disease diagnosis has largely been conducted by blood and urine assays of large biomolecules, often proteins or nucleic acid. Moving beyond genomics and proteomics, the emerging field of metabolomics directly analyzes the activity of the metabolic pathways themselves by measurement of small molecule metabolites. Tumor metabolic pathways produce metabolites different than normal cells. These small molecule metabolites are volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), they appear in alveolar blood, partition into the gas phase in exhaled breath producing a metabolic signature of disease in breath that can distinguished from that of healthy subjects.
Metabolomx, has developed technology enabling the identification of lung cancer from breath. Metabolomx partners at the Cleveland Clinic have recently reported diagnosis of lung cancer with accuracy comparable to CT, along with the ability to classify cancer cell-type based on the metabolic profile detectible in exhaled breath. New trials with a 100x more sensitive generation sensor are now underway.