Researchers Test for Cancer in a Person's Breath
In the United States, many people think of drunk driving when they hear the term "breathalyzer."
If you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, police will most likely ask you to breathe into a breathalyzer. This device identifies how much alcohol is in your blood by measuring the amount of alcohol in your breath.
Now, researchers are using the same technology to test for something else: cancer.
This breathalyzer, created by Owlstone Medical, can identify and measure chemicals in a person's breath. And it finds these chemicals at very low levels, usually parts per billion.
British researchers have asked 1,500 people to take part in tests of the device. Each person will wear a special mask and breathe normally for 10 minutes. The mask is equipped with collection tubes. These tubes capture the chemicals in the person's breath.
The lead investigator is Rebecca Fitzgerald of Cambridge University in England. She says the Owlstone breathalyzer is a simple device.
"These tubes -- simple though they look -- this is one of the things that's made a real difference in this technology looking so promising, because for the first time the chemicals that are breathed out in the breath, can be collected in these tubes and immediately stabilized. So as you keep breathing you're capturing more and more of those chemicals and you're building up a profile of the chemicals in your body that are being exhaled on the breath."
The tubes are then sent to Owlstone's laboratory. There, researchers examined the volatile organic compounds in the breath. Those VOCs, as they are known, are produced by the body's normal chemical processes.
However, changes in chemical activity can produce particular markings. And those markings can be biomarkers, providing evidence of disease.
Some biomarkers may show evidence of cancer in its earliest stages. Cancer develops in stages. The earlier cancer is identified, the greater the chance of survival.
One of Owlstone's founders is Billy Boyle. He says cancer often appears or as he says, "presents" itself after it has spread.
"The challenge is most people present when it's very late stage, and it's about managing symptoms as opposed to curing them. So the key thing that you can do is detect the disease early. And that's what we think the breathalyzer technology allows for...picking it up at that earliest stage when it's treatable."
The testing of the Owlstone breathalyzer is currently limited to patients with suspected esophageal and stomach cancers.
Esophageal cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths around the world. Most cases are reported in developing countries.
Esophageal cancer in its early stages usually has no signs. However, the chemical markers of the disease are present even in the earliest stage.
Over the two-year trial, researchers will extend testing of the breathalyzer to include patients with other cancers.
I'm Anna Matteo.
1.picking up 捡起；收起
There is no question of the taxpayer picking up the bill for the party.
2.building up 建立
We have achieved great successes in the cause of building up our country.
3.for the first time 第一次
For the first time in my career, I was failing.
4.leading cause 主要原因
Road traffic injuries are a leading cause of death and disability in Viet Nam.
5."These tubes -- simple though they look -- this is one of the things that's made a real difference in this technology looking so promising.
made a difference 有影响；有关系
Would he have made a difference?
The rain made a difference to the game.
6.British researchers have asked 1,500 people to take part in tests of the device.
take part in 参加；参与
They returned to take part in the season's opening game.
You don't need strength to take part in this sport.
如果你疑似酒后驾车，警察很可能会要求你对着酒精测试仪吹气 。这台设备可通过测量呼吸中的酒精含量判断血液中的酒精含量 。
由欧尔斯通医疗公司（Owlstone Medical）研发的呼吸测试仪可识别和测量人类呼吸中的化学物质，它发现的这些化学物质含量很低，通常是十亿分之一 。
英国研究人员邀请了1500人参与该设备的试验工作 。每个人将戴上一个特殊面罩，正常呼吸10分钟 。该面罩配备了收集管，这些管子负责搜集人类呼吸中的化学物质 。
瑞贝卡（Rebecca Fitzgerald）是英国剑桥大学的首席调查员 。她说，欧尔斯通呼吸测试仪是一台简单的设备 。
她说：“这些管子看似简单，却是让这项技术看上去前景大好的关键所在，因为人类呼吸时呼出的化学物质首次可通过这些管子收集并快速稳定 。因此，当你不断呼吸时，就能捕获越来越多的通过呼吸释放的化学物质，并建立体内化学物质的大致轮廓 。”
然后这些管子会送往欧尔斯通的实验室 。在那里，研究人员会检查呼吸中的挥发性有机化合物（VOCs），这些化合物是在人体正常的化学过程中产生的 。
然而，化学活性的变化会产生特殊的标记 。这些标记可以作为生物标记来筛查某种疾病 。
一些生物标志会显示癌症早期的证据 。癌症是分阶段发展的，越早确诊，存活的几率就越大 。
比利·博伊尔（Billy Boyle）是欧尔斯通公司的创始人之一 。他说，癌症通常是在扩散后才会显示出来 。
他说：“大多数人面临的挑战是在癌症晚期才有所发觉，那时候只能控制病症，而不是治疗病症 。所以，关键在于提早发现疾病 。这就是这种呼吸测试仪可实现的：在可治疗的最初阶段发现疾病 。”
食道癌是全球癌症患者死亡的主要原因 。大多数病例发生在发展中国家 。
食道癌在早期阶段通常没有任何迹象 。然而，这种疾病的化学标记物在最早期阶段也会存在 。