N-Nose for Cancer Screen

Fig.1 All Cancers (C00-C97 Excl. C44), Average Number of New Cases per Year and Age-Specific Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, UK, 2014-2016[1]

Cancer is a severe disease. People have a great chance to get cancer as age growth. Age positively impact on the cancer cases. According to the study of the average number of new cases per year and age-specific incidence rates in the UK from 2014-2016 (Fig.1), adults aged 50+ account for nearly 89% of all new cancer cases. People aged <50 account for about 10% of all new cancer cases in the UK(2014-2016).  The number of cancer cases is primarily distributed in adults aged 50+, which is almost nine times than people aged less than 50 cancer cases. Therefore, cancer shows correlated with age.

Nowadays, we have several cancer treatment methods, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.[2] These treatments cause side effects and inconvenience for patients’ daily life. Immunotherapy is a new treatment that uses the human body’s immune system to treat cancer. Since immunotherapy treats cancer via stimulating the patient’s own immune functions, it does not affect other healthy organs and tissues of the body. Hence, the cancer patient has less burden by using immunotherapy.

Early detection and early treatment help increase the recovery rate. For example,  the cure rate of colorectal cancer is about 98.5% in stage 1, but only 22.0% in stage 4 in Japan from 2008 to 2010. [3] The Tumor marker is widely used in cancer early detection like stage2 now. Tumor marker usually has limited accuracy, is not suitable for stage 0 and 1 test.

HIROTSU BIO SCIENCE INC., a Japan star-up company, present a cancer screening test which can be used in stage 0 and 1. Their product, N-Nose uses the highly sensitive olfactory sensory functions of c. elegans nematodes. C. elegans is widely used as a model organism for the investigation primarily of neural development in animals. C. elegans even has a better scent than dogs since it has more olfactory receptors.

Their product based on their CEO Mr. Hirotsu’s research, especially the following three papers.

1. The Ras-MAPK pathway is important for olfaction in Caenorhabditis elegans. Hirotsu T., Saeki S., Yamamoto M. and Iino Y. Nature, 404, 289-93 (2000)
2. Cancer screening test using C. elegans scent detection. Hirotsu T. Aroma Research,16,134-136 (2015)
3. A Highly Accurate Inclusive Cancer Screening Test Using Caenorhabditis Elegans Scent Detection. Hirotsu T., Sonoda H., Uozumi T., Shinden Y., Mimori K., Maehara Y., Ueda N., Hamakawa M. PLOS ONE, 10(3):e0118699(2015)

He found nematodes have different behaviors toward urine from cancer patients and healthy persons.

Fig.2 nematodes move toward cancer patient’s urine. source via Nishinippon Shimbun
Fig.3 nematodes escape from the healthy person’s urine. source via Nishinippon Shimbun

As fig.2 and fig. 3 show nematodes escape from healthy person urine but attracted by cancer patients’ urine.

Their clinical studies show N-Nose is an effective tool to detect cancer in stage 1 even stage 0, including stomach, colorectal, lung, breast, and etc. completely 15 cancers. The company says this test has 85% high accuracy corroding to the test cases by August 2019. They believe N-Nose can work as an effective and affordable cancer screening test. The test will be available to the public in Japan in January 2020.

[1] Cancer incidence by age. (2019). Retrieved 22 December 2019, from https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/incidence/age?a=5441%2818/08/2011%29
[2] がん治療の分類 | 治療方針 | 札幌高機能放射線治療センター SAFRA. (2019). Retrieved 22 December 2019, from https://kojinkai-safra.jp/policy/class.html
[3]部位別臨床病期別5年相対生存率(2008~2010年診断症例). (2019). Retrieved 22 December 2019, from http://www.zengankyo.ncc.go.jp/etc/seizonritsu/seizonritsu2010.html

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