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Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Scientists at Canterbury Innovation Centre say invention could save millions of lives

02 December 2013
by Gerry Warren

Boffins in Canterbury say they have developed a cancer-detecting breath test machine that could save millions of lives.

Dr Boris Gorbunov is director and lead scientist of Ancon Technologies, the company behind the breakthrough after 10 years of work.His 12-strong team – based at the Canterbury Innovation Centre – has now built a prototype of the machine that they say could be miniaturised and installed in GP surgeries and hospitals throughout the country and overseas.

Dr Boris Gorbunov with his cancer detecting breath test machine

Dr Boris Gorbunov with his cancer detecting breath test machine

They claim it can detect the very earliest stages of a wide range of cancers, long before any symptoms appear.

Dr Gorbunov, an internationally renowned expert in nanotechnology, said: “While there is existing breath-test technology to detect illnesses, nothing comes near the sensitivity of ours, which we have now patented.

“The impact of our technology would be massive, because cancers are our biggest killer and this has the potential to save thousands of lives a year.

“We believe it is the holy grail of medical diagnosis because it is inexpensive, simple to use, and early diagnosis hugely increases a patient’s chance of survival.”

The technology works by detecting biomarkers in the complex molecules emitted in a person’s breath, which can then be linked to specific types of cancer.

The company is using the same technology to develop a machine that can sample the air to detect explosives or drugs. It is said to be thousands of times more sensitive than a drugs dog’s nose.

Dr Gorbunov says his firm has backing to develop that machine from the Ministry of Defence.

But Ancon’s commercial and marketing director, Wesley Baker, says the company needs about £430,000 investment to take the cancer-detecting machine to the next stage of development.

He said: “We have got so far with research grants but now need funding to produce around five smaller machines which we can take to health and clinical trial stage.

“Ultimately, we see them as being desk-top machines, costing between £15,000
and £20,000, which is a small price to pay for the number of lives they could save and
the reduced cost to the health service.”

Dr Gorbunov is now trying to find sponsors to continue his work. For more information visit

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