Professor Peter Dettmar has been working on reflux since 1981 and is a world-leading expert on using the stomach enzyme pepsin as a marker for the disease.

In his former role as global R&D Director of Gastrointestinals for Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare, Professor Dettmar was involved in developing alginate-antacid treatments Gaviscon and Gaviscon Advance.

He is now the author or co-author of more than 530 peer reviewed journal papers, conference abstracts and book chapters on gastro-intestinal matters. He has established international research and clinical networks, as well as national and international conferences and workshops, on reflux disease.

As well as pepsin and reflux, Professor Dettmar also specialises in bile acids, mucosal protection, salivary mucins, bioadhesion, H. pylori, nutrition, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), polymers/biopolymers and cell biology.

“As a drug development expert in the pharmaceutical industry, I have a particular interest in the gastrointestinal tract. Almost 30 years ago, I started developing products that would alleviate symptoms of heartburn and regurgitation, including the early development work in the UK for Gaviscon,” explains Peter.

“During the 90s, I worked with specialists in the US, such as Dr Jamie Koufman, who is known for her work on how reflux affects the voice and airway. Then in 2004, I started working on a development programme for a diagnostic test for pepsin – now known as Peptest.”

How Peptest works

Pepsin is an enzyme only found in the stomach so if it is found outside the stomach, such as in the oesophagus, the throat, the mouth or the lungs, then we know it has been refluxed.

Pepsin is a major aggressive agent responsible for damaging oesophageal and laryngeal tissue during the reflux of stomach contents. It not only causes surface damage but can also cause damage within cells themselves.

Peptest is a lateral flow device that uses unique monoclonal human pepsin antibodies to detect the presence of pepsin in a patient’s saliva sample.

Peter says: “Most diagnostic tests for reflux are very time consuming and invasive – these include endoscopy and 24-hour pH tests. With Peptest you take a normal saliva sample and can quickly detect the presence of pepsin and also its concentration.”

“As we are recording a patient’s pepsin levels it can provide a benchmark to measure against future testing. In this way we can assess the effectiveness of treatments, lifestyle advice or even surgery by looking at the new level of pepsin after the intervention.”

Clinical studies

Peptest has been widely validated in the laboratory and has been implemented by medical professionals across the world.

The diagnostic device has been routinely used to rapidly diagnose reflux disease in patients in gastroenterology, ENT, chest and respiratory clinics and has a wide use in paediatrics.

Rapid Reflux

The above graphic describes the use of Peptest across various clinical disciplines.

Currently there are more than 80 peer reviewed published research and clinical papers describing the sensitivity and specificity of Peptest and the diagnostic benefits of using a non-invasive diagnostic test.

There are many international clinical studies ongoing due to the increasing awareness and benefits of Peptest.