A ground-breaking ‘breath test’ for lung cancer is about to go into clinical trials at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, UK.

With support from a £1-million NHS Small Business Research Initiative grant, it is hoped that the LuCID (Lung Cancer Indicator Detection) programme will give rise to the ability to diagnose lung cancer in its earliest stages by analysing chemical changes in breath with a hand-held device.

The trial aims to further assess a GC-FAIMS (Gas Chromatography – Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry) sensor in a rapid access lung cancer clinic at the Hospital. Billy Boyle, co-founder of Owlstone Nanotech, which is developing the technology, said FAIMS “has the potential to bring a quick and easy-to-use breath test to a GP’s office”.

According to the Cambridge University spin-off, earlier detection of lung cancer could not only save and extra 10,000 lives but also around £250 million for the NHS.

Results of the clinical study, which is being led by Salman Siddiqui, a clinical senior lecturer and adult chest physician at the University and Glenfield Hospital, are expected early next year.