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January 6, 2017

Owlstone Raises $11.5M to Develop Breathalyzer Diagnostics and R&D Services

  • Disease breath test diagnostics firm Owlstone Medical raised $11.55 million in an investment round with existing investors. The financing round follows just 6 months after the firm was spun out from Owlstone Inc., with $7 million in start-up funding. Cambridge, U.K.-based Owlstone Medical is leveraging proprietary field asymmetric ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS) sensor microchip technology to develop disease breathalyzer diagnostics. FAIMS can measure disease-specific volatile organic compound metabolites in breath or bodily fluids, which Owlstone Medical claims represent biomarkers that can be used for very early disease diagnosis. The latest funds will be used to support the commercial launch of Owlstone Medical’s breath biomarker R&D services, open a new clinical facility, and fund its ongoing clinical studies in lung and colon cancer screening.

    “Securing this funding is further validation of our FAIMS technology and breath biopsy as a new diagnostic modality,” commented Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO. “We’ve made fantastic progress in our LuCID lung cancer trial, which will recruit up to 3000 patients across 21 sites in the U.K. and Europe, making it the world’s largest breath-based study ever undertaken for early cancer detection. The commercial launch of our R&D services will, for the first time, allow clinical and pharma partners to easily identify breath biomarkers for novel diagnostics and precision medicine applications.”

    Owlstone Medical’s lung cancer screening LuCID trial is evaluating the diagnosis of lung cancer by measuring volatile organic compounds in patients’ exhaled breath The study is being funded by a U.K. National Health Service development contract. The InTERCEPT colorectal cancer trial is evaluating a FAIMS-based urine test that has been shown to demonstrate 88% sensitivity for colorectal cancer and 62% sensitivity for advanced ademonas, Owlstone Medical claims. Funded by an Innovate U.K. grant, the firm is separately carrying out the STRATA study, which is evaluating whether the detection of specific volatile organic compounds in the exhaled breath of asthma patients’ can aid treatment decision making.

    During October 2016, Owlstone Medical confirmed the receipt of a CE mark for a pediatric version of its ReCIVA™ disease breathalyzer device. Both the adult and pediatric versions of the breathalyzer are being used in the £2.5 million ($3.1 million) EMBER (East Midlands Breathomics Pathology Node), project, funded by the U.K.’s Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which aims to develop breath-based systems for molecular pathology.

    Parent company, Owlstone Inc, was founded in 2004 as a spin-out from the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge University and sells the FAIMS technology to the military and industrial sectors. Owlstone Medical was spun out in 2016 to develop and commercialize the FAIMS technology for diagnostic applications.

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