The Technology Partnership plc (TTP) is pleased to announce that its novel silent pump technology, Disc Pump, will play a key role in Owlstone’s lung cancer screening system due to enter Phase 2 clinical trials in November. As part of the LuCID (Lung Cancer Indicator Detection) programme, it is hoped the Owlstone technology will lead to a cheaper, smaller and noninvasive method of diagnosing early‐stage lung cancer, and potentially save over 10,000 lives by 2020.

The Owlstone technology is essentially a “breathalyser for disease” and capable of measuring low concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can indicate the early onset of diseases including lung cancer. For best performance, an even flow of air is critical; any pulsatility in the gas flow reduces the quality of the measurements, and reduces the likelihood of detecting the lowest traces of gases.

And this is where TTP’s pump technology comes in. Approximately the size of two £2 coins stacked on top of each other, TTP’s Disc Pump works at ultrasonic frequencies, cycling 21,000 times per second. Each short cycle moves a tiny quantity of air – around 100 nanolitres – less than the volume of a pin head. This means that the air flow is effectively pulseless, and ideally suited to gas sampling applications. The pump can be configured to deliver pressures of 400 mbar and flow rates exceeding 1 L/min with fully adjustable control. Its small size, weight and low power consumption are especially suited for integration with portable, battery powered devices.

Alastair Taylor, Chief Product Manager of Owlstone, commented: “TTP’s novel pump enables us to get the best out of our gas analyser and create a more responsive, more sensitive lung cancer detector.”

Disc Pump will also prove instrumental in Owlstone’s companion system used to capture the initial patient breath sample at the point‐of‐care. TTP’s pump can be switched on and off in a millisecond, which enables Owlstone to trap a sample at a precise point in the exhalation cycle.

Project Manager at TTP, Tom Harrison said “We are incredibly excited about working with Owlstone, and this is just one of the medical applications where Disc Pump’s novel characteristics can have a dramatic impact. In addition to this area of healthcare, we are actively pursuing many other opportunities that range from sleep apnea to vascular therapy”

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