Cleveland Clinic said today it is partnering with Owlstone Medical to establish a new center focused on studying the detection of diseases ranging from chronic conditions to cancer by measuring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in exhaled breath, in combination with other non-invasive biomarkers from other bodily fluids such as saliva and blood.
The new Center for Early Disease Detection has set as its first project discovering and identifying VOCs in breath that can be used as biomarkers for early detection of multiple forms of chronic liver diseases and liver-related cancers. The project will be carried out in collaboration with Owlstone Medical, the developer of Breath Biopsy non-invasive disease diagnostics using VOC biomarkers.
The study will involve patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, colorectal liver metastases, and patients with cirrhosis but no malignancies, and is expected to run for approximately 12 months. The study is being co-led by Federico Aucejo, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease & Surgery Institute, focused on treatment of disorders related to the gastrointestinal tract; and Daniel M. Rotroff, Ph.D., of the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences in Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute. Lerner is home to all laboratory-based, translational and clinical research at Cleveland Clinic.
“Breath is emerging as a promising approach to early disease detection based on its ease of sample collection and potential to offer high levels of sensitivity, we are very pleased to collaborate with Owlstone Medical, as we work to establish the Center for Early Disease Detection,” Tony Giordano, Innovation Manager, Cleveland Clinic Innovations, the commercialization arm of Cleveland Clinic, stated on its website.
Linking VOCs to Disease
Cleveland Clinic researchers have previously linked VOCs to acute alcoholic hepatitis, diabetes, acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF), pulmonary arterial hypertension, C. diff infection and liver disease. In many cases, according to Cleveland Clinic, these VOCs have shown promise for providing better diagnosis of disease than the accepted gold standard used currently to diagnose the specific disease.
Many of those efforts had been led by Raed Dweik, M.D., M.B.A., chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute and one of the early adopters and a world leader in the diagnostic use of VOCs.
Last month, Owlstone Medical announced advancements in its Breath Biopsy platform that included the introduction of a new ReCIVA® Breath Sampler and CASPER™ Portable Air Supply, designed to support internal biomarker discovery programs and those of academic and biopharma clients, as well as to measure levels of known volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on breath.
VOCs are the end product of metabolic processes within a person’s cells and tissues, within their microbiome, and from their response to environmental exposures. Since VOC production is linked directly to metabolic activity, the compounds can be sampled quickly and noninvasively from breath, urine, or other bodily fluids. Changes in VOC concentrations take place at the very earliest stages of disease, so detection of the compounds can allow disease diagnosis before other physical symptoms become apparent.
“Over time, it’s a bit like getting a window into a much larger volume of blood,”Owlstone Medical Co-Founder and CEO Billy Boyle told Clinical OMICs in 2017. “Once every minute, your entire recirculated blood flow goes around your body. By sampling the chemicals coming from breath over that time period, you have really quite unbelievable test sensitivity in terms of trying to detect disease.