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Owlstone Medical expands into China with Shanghai Renji Hospital lung cancer trial

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Owlstone Medical is expanding into China by collaborating with Shanghai Renji Hospital on a clinical trial into the early detection of lung cancer.

The signing of the deal between Owlstone Medical and Renji Hospital in Shanghai (7327304)
The signing of the deal between Owlstone Medical and Renji Hospital in Shanghai (7327304)

Supported by the Li Ka Shing Foundation, the partnership will establish Owlstone’s first Breath Biopsy lab outside the UK.

The Cambridge Science Park-based company is developing a breathalyser for the early detection of diseases including cancer and to enable precision medicine.

With escalating incidence of lung cancer in China, Owlstone and Renji Hospital aim to introduce diagnostic tests that will improve survival rates and bring down healthcare costs.

Professor Li-wei Wang, director of oncology at Renji Hospital, will lead the first clinical trial of its kind in China.

The hospital will provide operation support for the study and Owlstone will provide its Breath Biopsy technology, breath collection stations, analytical instrumentation, and the procedures and training necessary to support the new lab’s operation.

Beyond the study, the lab will support additional research investigations into cancer and other areas.

Billy Boyle, CEO of Owlstone, using the breathalyser
Billy Boyle, CEO of Owlstone, using the breathalyser

Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical, said: “Expansion into China through the establishment of an in-country Breath Biopsy lab and formation of high value partnerships is an important part of Owlstone Medical’s strategy, significantly as access to the large healthcare networks present has the potential to substantially accelerate clinical trials.

“Renji Hospital is a leader in cancer and other areas of medical research and represents an ideal partner for us.

“Through its affiliation with the Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, and with over 50,000 inpatients per year, the studies undertaken in this newly established Breath Biopsy lab will prove to be a significant driver of our goal to save 100,000 lives, and we are excited to begin.”

Dr Li-wei Wang said: “Healthcare systems around the world are increasingly recognising that better and more reliable approaches to the early detection of disease is one of the most effective ways to support patients and to control healthcare costs.

“Breath-based diagnostics have the potential to revolutionise the way that this challenge is approached and we are very pleased to be partnering with Owlstone Medical to establish the first Breath Biopsy lab outside of the UK.

“We are hopeful that our collaboration will result in screening tools that meaningfully help combat lung cancer and other diseases in China and globally.”

Breath Biopsy measures the volatile organic compounds in breath. These compounds are produced as a result of metabolic processes within the body, meaning changes in metabolic activity can produce patterns of VOCs, or biomarkers, characteristic of a particular disease.

As VOCs captured in breath originate from all parts of the body, the technology is applicable to a wide range of diseases including cancer, inflammatory disease, infectious disease, metabolic disease, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease.

Owlstone’s ReCIVA Breath Sampler is used to collect the VOCs in a reliable format. Patients breathe a controlled supply of air and samples of their exhaled breath are captured and stabilised on Breath Biopsy Cartridges.

These are then analysed in the Breath Biopsy Lab, using mass spectrometry or Owlstone’s patented FAIMS (Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry) technology, a variant of ion mobility spectrometry, to determine the VOC profile. Advanced data analytic techniques can be applied to pinpoint VOCs of interest.

Owlstone won Medtech Company of the Year at the 2018 Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards.

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