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Gastrointestinal Diseases

Breath biomarker discovery with Breath Biopsy could help to enable non-invasive precision medicine and symptom monitoring for gastrointestinal diseases.

Biomarkers for Gastrointestinal Disease

Biomarkers for Gastrointestinal Disease

Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and colonic dysbiosis, together affect over a billion people worldwide1. These conditions all share common non-specific clinical presentations, making accurate diagnosis and effective treatment a critical challenge. GI diseases vary in impact from mild to debilitating and are estimated to cost the US alone $21 billion a year in healthcare costs and lost productivity2.

Accurate diagnosis of GI illness can be a lengthy and frustrating process for patients. Non-invasive breath tests could help to change this by providing new information to help inform rapid diagnosis and treatment decisions. Breath tests are already in limited clinical use for GI conditions. Hydrogen methane breath tests (HMBT), can help to identify conditions, such as SIBO and carbohydrate malabsorption, by assessing aspects of gut microbiome metabolism.

There is a growing body of research demonstrating the capabilities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on breath to detect, distinguish and monitor various GI illnesses. Human breath contains over 1,000 different VOCs which can originate from endogenous metabolism or exogenous sources such as diet, the environment or the microbiome. Collecting and analyzing these compounds can be a rich source of information relevant to health and disease. By developing Breath Biopsy, Owlstone Medical have become the world-leaders in robust and reliable, non-invasive breath collection for biomarker discovery research.

1. Nirwan et al., Global Prevalence and Risk Factors of Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD): Systematic Review with Meta-analysis. Sci. Rep. 10, 5814 (2020)

2. About IBS, Statistics about IBS (visited March 2021)

About Breath Biomarkers

Biomarkers of GI disease originate directly within the gut and are then transferred into breath via the bloodstream. As such, breath tests have the potential to detect systemic markers of GI diseases. Breath Biopsy supports research into breath biomarkers with the ReCIVA® Breath Sampler for non-invasive breath sample collection and provides robust biomarker discovery pipelines using GC-MS analysis provided through Breath Biopsy OMNI.


We’re working on gastrointestinal disease with these groups:

Functional Gut Clinic Logo Mayo Clinic logo University of Warwick Logo



Our team organize and attend a range of events to showcase Breath Biopsy. This includes our webinar series and the annual Breath Biopsy Conference (BBCon), a keystone event for the breath research community.

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