Owlstone Medical closes $7M investment to commercialize disease breathalyzer
CAMBRIDGE, U.K.—Owlstone Medical Ltd., a diagnostics company, was recently spun out of parent company Owlstone Inc. to develop and commercialize a breathalyzer for use in clinical diagnostics and precision medicine, with applications planned in cancer, inflammatory and infectious disease. As part of that announcement, the company shared in late June that it had successfully raised $7 million (£4.9 million) in financing. The investment round was led by Medtekwiz Advisory Ltd. and will be used to fund ongoing clinical trials of the breathalyzer in lung and colon cancer screening.
Owlstone Medical was created to leverage the field asymmetric ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS) technology for the advancement of a disease breathalyzer. FAIMS measures volatile organic compound (VOC) metabolites in patient’s breath or bodily fluids which are specific to disease. Measurement of VOC biomarkers could allow diagnosis of disease at a very early stage, to enable more effective treatment and better patient outcomes.
The parent company says that Owlstone Medical is “managed by a highly experienced team and supported by world- renowned experts in lung cancer diagnosis. Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical, is an engineering graduate from Cambridge University and one of the original co-founders of Owlstone Inc., which was spun out of Cambridge University in 2004 and has raised $28 million in investment and won in excess of $25 million in engineering grants, largely from the U.S. military.”
Boyle commented: “Securing this funding is further validation of our technology, and we are excited to progress our vision to revolutionize the detection and diagnosis of cancer, infectious and inflammatory diseases. The breathalyzer we are developing provides clinicians with a highly sensitive, non-invasive diagnostic, which will enable early detection and improve patient outcomes. We are also working with pharma partners to develop non-invasive companion diagnostics to better match patients to treatment for emerging personalized therapies.”
“I am delighted to have joined the board and to be involved at such a milestone in the development of the company,” said Christofer Toumazou, Regius Professor of engineering at Cambridge University and advisor to Medtekwiz, who was recently appointed to the Owlstone medical board. “With the investment, I look forward to seeing a step change in the way serious disease can be diagnosed and monitored, and particularly for colon and lung cancer, which are two of the biggest cancer killers worldwide.”
Bret Bader, Owlstone Inc. CEO and Owlstone Medical board member, added: “We are very pleased to have completed this transaction with Medtekwiz. Owlstone Inc. has developed a revolutionary platform technology that promises to change the delivery of chemical detection solutions in markets that range from defense to medical diagnostics. This transaction and the creation of Owlstone Medical is a template for our strategy of creating market-specific spinouts in order to take a focused approach to solve profound problems.”
The potential of the technology to enable rapid detection of disease without the need for costly, invasive medical procedures has seen Owlstone Medical recently awarded the Business Weekly AstraZeneca-MedImmune Life Science Innovation award. In February, the company won an National Health Services (NHS) contract for STRATA, adapting its disease breathalyzer technology for precision medicine and companion diagnostics and, prior to that, it was awarded a $1.4-million (£1 million) NHS contract for LuCID (Lung Cancer Indicator Detection) to use FAIMS technology in the early detection of lung cancer.