Owlstone, Actelion Team Up to Develop Breath-based Test for Diagnosing PH

Vijaya Iyer, PhD avatar

by Vijaya Iyer, PhD |

Share this article:

Share article via email
research partnership

Owlstone Medical has established a strategic collaboration with Actelion Pharmaceuticals to develop and validate a breath-based diagnostic test for different types of pulmonary hypertension (PH).

Actelion Pharmaceuticals will solely fund this discovery and development program.

The test will be based on Owlstone’s non-invasive method called Breath Biopsy, in which the patient’s breath is sampled to identify PH-specific volatile organic compounds (VOC) that can serve as diagnostic markers.

“Owlstone Medical was founded with the objective of improving the early diagnosis of disease in order to save lives through the application of Breath Biopsy. This strategic collaboration with Actelion, which is focused on improving the lives of those suffering from PH and PAH [pulmonary arterial hypertension], represents a tremendous opportunity to do just that,” Billy Boyle, co-founder, and CEO at Owlstone Medical, said in a press release.

“This is particularly true in underdiagnosed areas such as PH, where early diagnosis is difficult and so screening has to be simple, reliable, and cost effective,” Boyle added.

PH is a progressive condition caused by the narrowing of blood vessels, which restricts blood flow, causing an excessive increase in blood pressure in vessels and added strain on the heart. Routine physical exams do not detect the early signs of PH, and the symptoms of advanced PH are very similar to those of other heart and lung conditions, thereby increasing the chances of misdiagnosis.

Also, diagnosing the type of PH is critical because it determines the course of treatment. That is why early screening and proper detection are crucial in the management of PH, emphasizing the need for efficient tests that are simple, specific, reliable, and cost-effective.

Of note, VOCs are the result of metabolic processes within the body, meaning that changes in metabolic activity can be associated with particular VOC patterns characteristic of specific diseases.

As part of this collaboration, exhaled breath samples containing VOCs will be collected from more than 1,000 patients from the United States, the United Kingdom, and other counties in the European Union.

ReCIVA, Owlstone Medical’s proprietary VOC sampling device, will be used to collect the samples. The samples then will be analyzed by Owlstone Medical to identify PH-specific signatures that can be developed as biomarkers to help in early PH detection.

“We believe Breath Biopsy will deliver a program from discovery through to the launch of a test to the market, and this novel approach will make a real difference for the healthcare of patients suffering from PH,” Boyle said.