Scripps to test NASA-developed, smartphone-enabled lung cancer sensor

By Brian Dolan

Vantage Health SensorVantage Health and parent company Nanobeak announced this week that they have partnered up with Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) to help develop its point-of-care chemical sensor apps. Beyond developing the sensor, the partnership will include planning and executing clinical trials at STSI and two other locations. Initial form factors of the device resemble some smartphone-enabled breathalyzer peripherals.

STSI will help validate the sensors, which are able to detect certain basic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), by using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. The group aims to use the Vantage Health Sensor, as the company calls it, to detect VOCs commonly associated with lung cancer.

"This is arguably one of the most vital and exciting steps in our effort to transfer the technology out of the labs at NASA and into the marketplace, as part of our commercialization process," Jeremy Barbera, chairman and CEO of Vantage Health said in a statement. "STSI's Center for Digital Medicine, under the leadership of STSI Director Eric Topol, M.D., and Scripps Health digital medicine Director Steven Steinhubl, M.D., bring to Vantage the expertise and clinical trial experience necessary to successfully advance our mobile health applications."

In early January Vantage Health inked a five-year exclusive deal with NASA to commercialize its patented chemical sensors as mobile health products.

"The initial exclusive commercialization agreement with NASA licenses the use of multiple US Patents relating to inventions in the fields of nanotechnology, chemical sensing, carbon nanotubes, medical diagnoses, environmental sensing and cell phone applications," the company wrote at the time. "The commercialization agreement requires that the products be manufactured substantially in the United States, and are subject to certain annual royalty payments to NASA. We will use this sensor technology to focus on certain forms of disease screening and narcotics screening. The initial application will be lung cancer."

STSI is already working with a number of mobile and digital health companies, including Scanadu (Scout), AliveCor, AgaMatrix/Sanofi (iBGStar), Withings (Blood Pressure Cuff), iRhythm (Zio), AirStrip Technologies, and more.