IT MAY be a humble flapjack made by a Scottish family baker, but experts believe the latest Dundee cake could revolutionise diagnosis of a range of potentially fatal diseases.
Alan Clark has added secret ingredient c13 to his traditional flapjack recipe - and teamed up with researchers at Dundee University in hope of a medical breakthrough.
Until now, radioactive tracers have been used to identify tell-tale symptoms in a patient’s digestive system associated with diseases such as diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome and AIDS.
The results tell doctors if a patient is suffering from delayed gastric emptying, which can impair the body’s ability to digest medication needed to treat the conditions.
Radioactive tracers are seen as too expensive and risky for large-scale screening - which is where the flapjack comes in.
Mr Clark, based next door to the university, is adding c13, a naturally-occurring stable isotope of carbon which can be detected by a breath test once it has been eaten, to his cake mix. The results are then used to determine if a patient is suffering delayed stomach emptying.
Now Mr Clark, who runs the family bakery with his sons, Alan and Jonathan, has added the flapjacks to his campus order of bread rolls and pies.
A university spokeswoman said: "The flapjacks could revolutionise the diagnosis of delayed gastric emptying.
"Radioactive tracers are expensive and risky for large-scale screening but the Dundee technology is safe, accurate and cheap - and tastes good!"
Mr Clark said: "The amounts of tracer in each flapjack had to be so precise that we have to make each one individually.
"We add a small bottle of tracer to the mix and found, after testing, it spreads it evenly throughout each flapjack.
"I am delighted our bakery is part of the medical research," he added.