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20 May, 2019 - 10:13 By Tony Quested

Owlstone Medical broadens disease diagnostic reach with Actelion alliance

Billy Boyle Owlstone Medical

Disease breathalyser technology from Cambridge business Owlstone Medical is being used by a Johnson & Johnson group company to facilitate the early diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension and its subtypes.

The alliance is with Swiss company Actelion Pharmaceuticals which will solely fund the development programme using Owlstone’s technology. 

Actelion is a global leader in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PH). PH is a progressive cardiopulmonary disease where the blood pressure increases in the vessels that transport blood from the heart to the lungs, placing strain on the right side of the heart and often leading to heart failure. 

Early diagnosis of PH is very difficult and even at an advanced stage presents similar to other heart and lung conditions, so a delay of years between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis and treatment is common. It means there is an urgent need for effective tools to facilitate screening and early diagnosis of patients presenting with early signs of PH and its sub-groups.

The collaboration will initially involve collecting breath exhaled Volatile Organic Compounds from over 1,000 patients using Owlstone Medical’s proprietary sampling device, ReCIVA® from sites in the UK, US and other countries in the EU. 

These VOCs will be analysed by Owlstone Medical to identify those that are associated with PH, in order to develop biomarker signatures that can help facilitate earlier detection of the disease.

Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical, said: “Owlstone Medical was founded with the objective of improving the early diagnosis of disease in order to save lives through the application of Breath Biopsy. 

“This strategic collaboration with Actelion, which is focused on improving the lives of those suffering from PH and PAH, represents a tremendous opportunity to do just that. 

“This is particularly true in underdiagnosed areas such as PH, where early diagnosis is difficult and so screening has to be simple, reliable, and cost effective. 

“We believe our Breath Biopsy will deliver a program from discovery through to the launch of a test to the market, and this novel approach will make a real difference for the healthcare of patients suffering from PH.”

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