The new breath test is easy to administer, as it only requires patients to exhale into the SIFT-MS instrument.


Murray Mcewan Syft Technologies CTO

Dr. Murray McEwan

FRSNZ, MSc(Hons), PhD


CTO

Murray was Professor of Chemistry at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch until 2010. His research interests were centred on selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) and he developed strong research links with colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, USA investigating ion molecule chemistry of interstellar and planetary atmospheres.

When the University of Canterbury commercialized the technology with the formation of Syft Technologies Ltd in 2002, Murray served as Chief Technology Officer of the new company.

Since then he has been heavily involved with the transformation of the large laboratory based instrument into the small, sophisticated Voice instruments that are available today. He has continued with ion-molecule chemistry, method development, environmental applications and negative reagent ions.

Researchers at Imperial College London have developed a SIFT-MS-based breath test for stomach and esophageal cancers that is 85% accurate. The new test measures different volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on breath, and from the VOC profile determines whether cancer is present.

Currently the only way to diagnose stomach and esophageal cancers is via endoscopy. This method is expensive and invasive, because it involves inserting a tube down the throat and into the stomach. Once diagnosed, 85% of patients with stomach and esophageal cancers usually die within 5 years.

The new breath test is easy to administer, as it only requires patients to exhale into the SIFT-MS instrument. It is hoped that the new test will facilitate early screening of patients, reducing the number of unnecessary endoscopies and ultimately improving mortality through earlier detection.

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