Asthma comprises several different inflammatory disease processes in the lung that result in dyspnea, wheezing and loss of quality of life.

An estimated 235 million people worldwide are affected by asthma. Treatment currently consists of a trial and error approach that attempts to match the right patient to the right drug. Breath analysis offers the possibility of a rapid, straightforward and non-invasive method to stratify patients into receiving the right therapy and monitor what dosage they need.

Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways. It is characterised by symptoms including wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma causes more than a thousand deaths each year in the UK alone. Treatment can be radically improved if patients are stratified to receive the medication that is right for them. As part of the STRATA (Stratification of Asthma Treatment by Breath Analysis) project, Owlstone Medical’s existing disease breathalyzer technology is being used to stratify asthma patients by inflammatory subtype, matching them to the correct treatment first time. Such an approach can reduce exacerbations, improve quality of life and reduce healthcare costs. 

Two exciting pilot studies using the Lonestar system show how FAIMS technology can be used to distinguish between asthma variants that require different treatments. Data from the €22m U-BIOPRED study presented at the European Respiratory Society meeting in September 2015 showed that Owlstone Medical's FAIMS sensor was up to 63% more accurate in stratifying asthma patients in a head-to-head comparison with other gas sensors and instruments. The small form factor and proven accuracy differentiates FAIMS from current alternatives as the only technology meeting all the requirements for implementation as an asthma stratification tool for general practitioners and pulmonary specialists.

Preliminary results from LuCID clinical trial

The ability of FAIMS to discriminate patients with Asthma from a wider population has been shown in preliminary results from Owlstone Medical's NHS funded Lung Cancer Indicator Detection program (LuCID). As part of this project, a detailed medical history is obtained: the results indicate that VOCs measured using FAIMS can be used to discriminate between asthmatic and non-asthmatic patients (AUC .92) in a heterogeneous population of subjects with a wide variety of medical conditions. Such an approach allows identi fication of disease specifi c volatiles, greatly facilitating translation to clinical practice.

ROC Lucid Asthma
Discriminating patients with asthma in LuCID clinical trial population. AUC 0.92.

STRATA Clinical Trial

Too many asthma patients are currently on the wrong medication. In the STRATA programme, Owlstone will adapt our existing disease breathalyzer technology to stratify asthma patients and match them to the correct existing treatments first time. As a result we will bring lasting benefit to patients, minimise costs for the NHS and make a positive impact on the annual toll of 54,000 asthma-related emergency hospital admissions and 1,167 asthma-related deaths.


We have worked with a number of eNose platforms for medical breath research and we have found Owlstone’s FAIMS technology and Lonestar instrument to provide very good accuracy.

Professor Peter Sterk
University of Amsterdam

Learn more about VOC biomarkers and their application in asthma treatment stratification

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