Owlstone Medical Enters into a Strategic Collaboration with Actelion to Develop a Breath-Based Test to Help Facilitate Early Detection of Pulmonary Hypertension

Published on: 20 May 2019, under Breath Biopsy

Cambridge, UK, 20 May 2019: Owlstone Medical, the global leader in Breath Biopsy® for applications in early disease detection and precision medicine today announces a strategic collaboration with Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and a global leader in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), to discover and validate a breath-based test to help facilitate the early diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension and its subtypes. This development program will be solely funded by Actelion.

Pulmonary hypertension (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. Unfortunately, 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.  There is therefore 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 (VOCs) 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 analyzed by Owlstone Medical to identify those that are associated with PH, in order to develop biomarker signature(s) 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 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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Notes to Editors:

About Pulmonary Hypertension:

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a progressive lung disease where the blood vessels that transport blood from the heart to the lungs narrow and become stiff, causing the blood pressure in them to rise above normal levels. This in turn places strain on the right side of the heart as it works harder to supply the lungs with blood and over time, the muscle of the heart can weaken leading to heart failure.

Although uncommon (prevalence of approximately 100 cases per 100,000 population1), the incidence and prevalence of adult PH are increasing. Pulmonary hypertension cannot be cured, however early detection and treatment is important as this can reduce the severity of symptoms and allow for more effective disease management.

Unfortunately, PH is difficult to diagnose early as it is seldom detected in a routine physical exam, and even at an advanced stage clinical presentation is similar to that of other heart and lung conditions and so a delay between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis of years is common.

1.       https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.117.003973 


For more information please contact:

For Owlstone Medical:
Sarah Jeffery, Zyme Communications
+44 (0)7771 730919


Shabnam Bashir, Citigate Dewe Rogerson


+44 (0) 20 7282 2822


What is Breath Biopsy®?

Breath Biopsy represents an entirely new way to measure the chemical makeup of breath by measuring volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gaseous molecules that can be sampled quickly and non-invasively from breath and enabling whole-body sampling. These compounds are produced as the end product of metabolic processes within the body, meaning that underlying changes in metabolic activity can produce particular patterns of VOCs characteristic of specific diseases.

VOCs originating from all parts of the body are captured in breath, making Breath Biopsy applicable to a wide range of diseases including cancer, inflammatory disease, infectious disease, metabolic disease, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease. The nature of Breath Biopsy, and VOC biomarkers, make them perfectly suited to addressing two of the major challenges of healthcare today: early detection and precision medicine.

Breath collection is carried out using Owlstone Medical’s ReCIVA® Breath Sampler, which ensures reliable, reproducible collection of VOCs. Subjects breathe a controlled supply of air, and samples of their exhaled breath are captured and stabilized on Breath Biopsy Cartridges, which can then be shipped for analysis with Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy analytical platform, using mass spectrometry or FAIMS to determine their VOC profile. Advanced data analytic techniques can then be applied in order to pinpoint the VOCs of interest.

Breath Biopsy®

Find out more about Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy platform by downloading our free ebook: Breath Biopsy: The Complete Guide?

Breath Biopsy Complete Guide