Owlstone Medical bags $6.5m to optimise infectious disease diagnostic tool

Published: 25-Apr-2024

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded the bolstering of the Breath Biopsy platform, as well as research into breath biomarkers in tuberculosis (TB) and HIV

Owlstone Medical, the global organisation focused on developing diagnostics and precision medicines for infectious diseases, has secured funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop its proprietary Breath Biopsy and identify breath biomarkers for tuberculosis and HIV.

The funding is comprised of a USD $5m equity investment to advance its biopsy platform, as well as a $1.5m grant fund to develop diagnostics and identify breath biomarkers for tuberculosis (TB) and HIV.

Owlstone, with support from the foundation, is interested in developing new cost-effective detection technologies for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that could serve as markers of diseases that disproportionately affect the developing world. With the new funding, Owlstone seeks to understand whether this approach is suitable for TB and HIV detection and to explore a path by which breath-based testing could be deployed for rapid screening and earlier diagnosis.

Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical, said: “Early diagnosis is a critical determinant of health outcomes. By enabling swift and non-invasive detection of disease, breath analysis has the potential to save lives and dramatically reduce the burden of illness in resource-constrained settings. This investment by the Gates Foundation is testament to how Owlstone is uniquely positioned to transform infectious disease diagnosis through our Breath Biopsy platform. The funds will accelerate both the discovery and validation of VOC biomarkers and the development of a fieldable, low cost, simple to use device.”

The $5 million equity investment will fund the expansion of the Breath Biopsy VOC Atlas1 database and for development of a remote-use real-time breath analyser. 

The $1.5 million in grant funding to support the identification of breath biomarkers will be used across two projects:



TB: In partnership with the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Owlstone aims to identify a panel of on-breath candidate VOC biomarkers that differentiate TB subjects from healthy controls and to develop breath diagnostic approaches based on exploiting the metabolic features of TB using in vitro approaches.



Working with investigators from Imperial College, UK, and Oxford University, UK, Owlstone will analyse VOCs from blood samples from subjects with HIV and will work to identify a panel of on-breath candidate VOC biomarkers that correlate with HIV viral load.
In both areas, the data collected will also be used to further populate Owlstone’s Breath Biopsy VOC Atlas.



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