New Chewing Gum May Detect Cancer


There could be a new way to detect cancer in people, all just by chewing some gum. Volatile Analysis, an Alabama-based company, is currently working on a chewing gum to do just that.

The gum detects “volatiles” within saliva as it’s chewed and is then studied to find if the chewer produced chemicals that are created when a person has cancer.  The ‘volatile organic compounds’ are different for various cancers, said Katherine Bazemore, President and CEO of Volatile Analysis.

Credit: Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

“Technically, the gum concentrates the volatiles,” Bazemore told the Daily Mail. “Each disease has different chemicals that come out through your breath.”

Bazemore said the gum can be chewed for a long period of time, but patients really only have to chew it for around 15 minutes for it to pick up the chemicals. She said she hopes the company will soon have a product that would be able to detect multiple cancers and diseases.

Though the gum is still in testing stages, Bazemore said the company is also working on creating various flavors. By adding flavors, the company hopes to make the product more appealing for patients and doctors alike.

Related: Chewing Gum Can Damage Digestive System, Even If Not Swallowed

“Volatiles are also responsible for flavor and aroma,” she said. “We expect to infuse flavor so that of course patients like the gum. But flavor means more compounds so we want to limit what interacts with the compounds that the gum will be trapping.”

Credit: Joel Gillman/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

The gum would also be able to reduce the need for blood and urine testing that is currently required for patients. Leonard Lichtenfeld, Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society, said the gum isn’t the first attempt at early cancer detection.

“Over the last 15 years there have been a lot of attempts with different products and processes for early detection of cancer,” Lichtenfeld told Fox News. “None of these efforts are proven to detect cancer early.”

Volatile Analysis was founded in 2007 with the goal of using volatile chemicals to detect disease states. The company has since begun to develop patent pending devices and to focus on aroma and odor development.

The company has partnered with HudsonAlpha, a non-profit institute for biotechnology, to develop the gum. HudsonAlpha specifically focuses on research-driven discovery, education, genomic medicine and entrepreneurship.

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