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Making Every Breath Count: Early Detection of Disease Using Breath Biopsy Technology

Every Breath Counts: How Owlstone Medical is Utilizing Breath Biopsy Technology to Detect Disease Early

Breath biopsy technology has been gaining attention in recent years as a promising method for disease detection. And Owlstone Medical, the global leader in breath biopsy, is on an important mission to save 100,000 lives and $1.5 billion in healthcare costs through its innovative technology.

As a lead translational scientist at Owlstone Medical, Mariana Leal is part of the team that focuses on optimizing biomarker discovery and cancer metabolism to develop minimally invasive or non-invasive tests for the early detection of lung cancer. In this article, we explore how Owlstone Medical is revolutionizing the way we detect disease, particularly lung cancer, and how eVOCs are expanding the capabilities of breath biopsy technology.

Detecting Lung Cancer with Breath Biopsy Technology

Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death worldwide. The difficulty in detecting lung cancer at an early stage is a significant contributor to this fact. Current screening methods, such as CT scanning, are limited and require specialist capabilities that are not easily accessible to the majority of the population. Owlstone Medical aims to change this and make lung cancer screening more affordable, easy to use and accessible through its breath biopsy technology.

Breath biopsy at Owlstone Medical involves analyzing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in the exhaled breath. These VOCs provide early detection of metabolic processes within a person’s cells and tissues, within their microbiome and from their response to environmental exposures, which are linked to the production of VOCs. Early detection of these compounds can enable the diagnosis of disease before other physical symptoms become apparent.

Currently, Owlstone Medical is focused on developing a non-invasive test for the early detection of lung cancer, which would represent a significant advancement in screening for the disease. With the improvement of current screening programs mainly based on CT scanning, an increased number of indeterminate pulmonary nodules (IPN) have been identified.

To define whether a nodule in the lung is malignant, complementary approaches are needed, including a breath biopsy. While there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the potential for breath as a means of detecting illnesses, including lung cancer, there have been limited progress and improvements in developing a breath test for cancer. However, Owlstone Medical is continuously working to optimize breath biopsy technology to enable earlier detection of lung cancer.

Expanding Capabilities with eVOCs

Owlstone Medical is also exploring the use of exogenous volatile organic compounds (eVOCs) probes to target various diseases. eVOCs are compounds not normally found in breath at significant levels, but they are used to investigate how the body absorbs, metabolizes or excretes them, revealing dysregulated critical pathways in different diseases.

One example is the use of FDA “Generally Recognized as Safe” compounds such as food additives to detect chronic liver disease. These eVOCs are orally administered, metabolized in the body, and excreted via breath. This approach is exciting as it amplifies the sensitivity of detection of biomarkers and allows us to explore metabolic pathways related to the disease.

Key Takeaway

Breath biopsy technology has the potential to revolutionize disease detection, particularly for lung cancer. Owlstone Medical is at the forefront of this innovation, working to develop minimally invasive or non-invasive tests for the early detection of various diseases, including lung cancer. With eVOCs, the sensitivity of detection of biomarkers is amplified, allowing for a more in-depth understanding of metabolic pathways. The potential applications of breath biopsy technology are immense, and Owlstone Medical is leading the way in its development.

Related Facts

– VOCs are metabolic products that are usually measured in parts per billion (ppb).
– Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy® platform has already been validated in over 17 different types of cancer clinical trials.
– A breath test can detect diseases such as tuberculosis, asthma, and diabetes.


Breath biopsy technology is a promising method for early detection and diagnosis of various diseases. Owlstone Medical is leading the charge in developing non-invasive or minimally invasive tests for lung cancer and other diseases through breath biopsy technology. With eVOCs, the sensitivity of detection is improved, and the potential for early detection is amplified. Every breath counts, and Owlstone Medical is working to make every breath count towards early disease detection and saving lives.

Denk Liu
Denk Liu
Denk Liu is an honest person who always tells it like it is. He's also very objective, seeing the situation for what it is and not getting wrapped up in emotion. He's a regular guy - witty and smart but not pretentious. He loves playing video games and watching action movies in his free time.

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