Gastric cancer has good chances to be cured if diagnosed at an early stage; currently, there is lack of a reliable non-invasive screening tool. Eastern Europe and Latin America are among the geographical areas with high burden of the disease.

This project is aiming at developing a non-invasive gastric cancer screening tool by detecting characteristic panels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The mechanisms of VOC origin and their composition in gastric cancer patients will be addressed via headspace analysis of cancer tissue, cell-lines, and bacterial flora; VOCs identified during this analysis will be compared to the compounds present in human breath, both via gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GCMS).
Based on this data, a new type of breath analyser will be developed and validated building upon previously acquired expertise of the consortium members. Specifically, the exhaled breath analyser will combine electronic nose concepts utilizing gold nanoparticles and metal oxide sensors with orthogonal mid-infrared spectroscopic techniques for obtaining multi-dimensional analytical data sets; furthermore, compact pre-concentration schemes will be evaluated. All components will be integrated into several prototypes of portable and optimized devices.

The clinical studies will be conducted in parallel in European (Latvia, Ukraine) and Latin American (Colombia, Brazil, Chile) countries with high disease burden. Patients with gastric cancer and individuals with and without precancerous lesions (dysplasia, atrophy, intestinal metaplasia) will be enrolled. The role of confounding factors including H.pylori infection will be addressed.

As the main result, we expect to provide the first reliable non-invasive gastric cancer screening device based on exhaled breath analysis concepts for future large-scale implementation. The development of according research competences and international collaborations therefore is the most vital component of this project.