Owlstone Medical, Thermo Fisher Forge Breath Biopsy Technology Collaboration

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Owlstone Medical will partner with Renji Hospital in Shanghai to conduct a clinical trial assessing the company's Breath Biopsy diagnostic breathalyzer platform in early detection of lung cancer

Thermo Fisher Scientific and Owlstone Medical, a developer of breath biopsy for applications in early disease detection and precision medicine, have entered into a collaborative partnership to advance the early diagnosis of cancer and other diseases through the discovery and validation of novel biomarkers by non-invasive breath sampling.

The collaboration will integrate Thermo Fisher’s Orbitrap chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) technology with the Owlstone breath biopsy platform that measures volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the breath for the detection of disease.

For Thermo Fisher, the collaboration will qualify its mass analyzers for the detection of new biomarkers via a validated discovery and routine analysis project. The companies said that new analytical methods developed in the collaboration will be used in metabolomics studies of breath samples for unique biomarkers that could translate into non-invasive, routine screening tool for cancer and other diseases.

“There is a growing need for non-invasive diagnostic solutions to support early disease detection, patient treatment and increase remission rates,” Thermo Fisher Scientific’s director of marketing, gas chromatography, Morten Bern said in a press release. “The combination of our Orbitrap GC-MS technology with Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy platform provides a unique basis to improve patient outcomes through the discovery of novel biomarkers and their incorporation into research use and clinical tests.”

The partnership with one of the life science industry’s tools and technology leaders Thermo Fisher is just the latest in a string of research collaboration and partnerships for Owlstone. In October, the company announced it was partnering with the Cleveland Clinic to create the Center for Early Disease Detection with the goal of developing methods for the earlier detection of disease via the use of VOCs and other non-invasive diagnostic techniques using blood and saliva. The first project focuses on early detection of liver diseases and liver-related cancers.

VOCs are the end product of metabolic processes within a person’s cells and tissues, within their microbiome, and from their response to environmental exposures. Since VOC production is linked directly to metabolic activity, the compounds can be sampled quickly and noninvasively from breath, urine, or other bodily fluids.

Other collaborations and partnerships for Owlstone include work for the early detection of lung cancer with Renji Hospital in Shanghai, a project with three partners in the UK focused on asthma detection, and a partnership with Actelion Pharmaceuticals for the detection of pulmonary hypertension.

Speaking of its new collaboration with Thermo Fisher, Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO of Owlstone noted that “the Orbitrap platform’s ability to detect a wide range of chemicals during targeted and untargeted analyses without losing selectivity or sensitivity, promises to be of substantial benefit to our Breath Biopsy platform. With a large and rapidly expanding installed base of GC Orbitrap systems, our collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific represents an exciting opportunity for cross-promotion of the platform and technique, by which the benefits of Breath Biopsy can be broadly realized.”

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