Wadsworth Center researchers have developed a breath assay to detect markers of lung cancer. The diagnostic test is based on the detection of methylation in six tumor suppressor genes in the breath collected and condensed using a commercially available handheld device.
Investigators found it could detect the presence of the methylated form in all six tumor suppressor genes. For RASSF1A, the test was negative in non-smokers, and positive in both current and ex-smokers. For DAPK, methylation was more variable, given smoking status. The four other tested genes (p16, MGMT, PAX5B,CDH1) known to be methylated in various stages of lung cancer development, were minimally or not methylated, in this pilot study of predominantly cancer-free smokers.
This study further supports the concept that DNA could be measured in the breath. And thoough the results are but preliminary, it demonstrates that it is technically feasible to conduct a breath analysis that will aid in the early detection of lung cancer.