Owlstone Medical Boosts Breath Biopsy Research With Kits And A Digital Biobank

Image representing the volatile chemicals beyond your perception. Source: Gerd Altmann, no changes made, CC0 Creative Commons.
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Dogs have been used in criminal justice and forensic science settings for many years to detect the scent of missing persons or illicit drugs for example [1]. They can detect volatile organic chemicals with their well developed olfactory system. Diseases such as cancer release detectable volatile markers. Indeed, a recent study demonstrated that dogs could detect hepatocellular carcinoma on the breath of patients with a 78% accuracy [2]. If the volatile markers that allow dogs to detect the smell of disease were to be identified highly accurate automated disease detection breathalysers could be developed. Owlstone Medical, a diagnostics company developing a breathalyzer for disease is furthering research to do just that.

Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy platform is a new diagnostic modality designed to detect biomarkers of disease, and volatile drug metabolites, in breath [3]. In order to facilitate the identification of markers of disease in breath the company has developed several kits for academic and industry researchers to develop biomarker discovery programmes. These include:

  • Breath Biopsy Collection Kits
  • Breath Biopsy Discovery, Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Kits
  • Breath Biopsy Target VOC Kits to enable validation of biomarker classifiers.

In addition, scientists can choose to send samples to Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy Services Laboratory for analysis. The resulting data will become part of the world’s largest Breath Biopsy digital biobank, intended to further explore biomarker classifiers and gain valuable insights into potential performance in larger patient populations.

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“The ability to run targeted analysis of specific VOCs of interest and to have access to large patient populations via the Breath Biopsy digital biobank will enable us to greatly speed up the process of validating the VOC biomarkers we have identified in our previous studies.” – Professor Chris Mayhew, Director of the Institute for Breath Research at the University of Innsbruck



  1. Palmieri B, et al. Dogs’ olfactory diagnostics applied on human species: state of the art and clinical perspectives. Clin Ter. 2016;167(4):e78-84. doi: 10.7417/CT.2016.1943. Review. PubMed PMID: 27598027.
  2. Kitiyakara T, et al. The detection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from patients’ breath using canine scent detection: a proof-of-concept study. J Breath Res. 2017;11(4):046002. doi: 10.1088/1752-7163/aa7b8e. PubMed PMID: 28649095.
  3. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180327006424/en/Owlstone-Medical-Launches-Breath-Biopsy-Kits