What is Metabolomics?
The study of metabolomics has been under development for decades. However, only recently have its possibilities in cancer diagnosis and treatment become more than just speculation. The beauty of metabolomics lies in its ability to measure physiological changes without invasive methods. Thus, it can transform cancer research and diagnosis, but many hurdles prevent it from clinical application for oncology treatments. This article investigates what metabolomics is, why it is essential for cancer diagnosis, and how human breath can be sufficient to collect metabolites.
How Is Metabolomics Disrupting Cancer Research?
Metabolomics is an emerging research technology that’s becoming a staple to supplement traditional “omic” tools. Cancer detection techniques are essential for early diagnosis and provide a way to screen appropriate populations, guide initial treatment strategies, assess the efficacy of treatments, and track cancer progression.
Biologically, cancer cells rewire their metabolism to propagate exponentially and adapt themselves in the tumor microenvironment. However, these changes are also triggered by cancerous tissues, which can change normal tissue metabolism. This is where metabolomics comes in.
Metabolomics research can help identify cancer biomarkers, which can be used in developing more targeted treatments. Metabolomics is also being looked at for tumor staging and assessing treatment efficacy. Thus, researchers play an integral role in advancing cancer treatment and diagnosis despite the challenges surrounding building a metabolomics database.
What are VOCs and how are they used to detect cancer?
Many volatile organic compounds are chemicals found in many products we use to build and maintain our homes. But VOCs are also produced and emitted through the metabolism of cancer cells or the body’s immune system so these are considered novel cancer biomarkers for screening purposes. These gaseous molecules that can be sampled quickly and non-invasively from our breath.
Cancer cells produce VOCs which can be detected in Breath.
Human breath is sampled in a specifically designed breath bag.
Scientists and Clinicians use breath sample data and analyze it using AI software.
Electronic Noses Help Detect Cancerous VOCs
Detecting Cancer in Breath
A patient’s breath is a mixture of hundreds of biochemical substances with unique characteristics. An electronic nose consists of an analytical instrument that attempts to emulate the aroma identification process through the construction of electronic smell systems. It offers a fast, safe, and reliable alternative with technical and economic advantages compared to other gas chromatography or sensory analysis procedures.
Breath contains chemical compounds that present information about one’s health. The breath can be used to identify biomarkers of disease and detect illnesses in their earliest stages. It can even monitor or predict a person’s response to treatments and assess exposure to toxic substances such as chemicals or pollutants.
The Untapped Potential of Metabolomics for Cancer Detection
Electronic noses or E-noses are considered an easy and practical way of identifying VOCs in the environment. E-Noses are non-invasive, with minimal setup required for use, and can detect very low levels of VOCs. The new technology is based on electro-biochemical sensors that create a unique patient’s breath sample fingerprint. This enables us to characterize, classify and differentiate VOCs. These are analyzed by AI software which uses statistical analysis to screen for cancerous metabolites, such as formaldehyde, acetone, or even alcohol in their exhaled air.
Breath contains chemical compounds that present information about one’s health. The breath test can be used to identify biomarkers of disease and detect illnesses in their earliest stages. Breath Technology based on Metabolomics has the potential to be an effective early detection tool for many cancers, especially for breast cancer screening.
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