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Owlstone Medical shares $1m IPF Catalyst Challenge prize and aims to help thousands with incurable lung disease



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Elizabeth Estes, chief marketing offficer at Three Lakes Partners, with Mike Murphy, centre, and Dr Marc van der Schee of Owlstone Medical
Elizabeth Estes, chief marketing offficer at Three Lakes Partners, with Mike Murphy, centre, and Dr Marc van der Schee of Owlstone Medical

Cambridge Respiratory Innovations was among finalists in Three Lakes Partners competition

Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical with former PM Tony Blair at the opening of a lab
Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical with former PM Tony Blair at the opening of a lab

Owlstone Medical has been announced as one of three winners of a $1m challenge designed to find solutions to those with a chronic and incurable lung disease.

The Cambridge Science Park company will receive $333,333 (£240,000) to explore use of its breathalyser technology in enabling the critical early diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

The winners of the IPF Catalyst Challenge were announced in Chicago last Thursday night, and were chosen from nine finalists, shortlisted from hundreds.

Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical, said: “We are thrilled to win this award which recognizes the potential of our Breath Biopsy platform for the early detection of IPF.

Owlstones Breath Biopsy platform is a breathalyser to diagnose disease
Owlstones Breath Biopsy platform is a breathalyser to diagnose disease

“Breath Biopsy is already being used in clinical trials for a wide range of cancers, including lung and colorectal cancer, and has recently been integrated into a major clinical development program for a novel drug candidate for respiratory disease. In taking this step towards a breathalyser for IPF, we look forward to making a similar contribution to finding quality of life solutions for this devastating disease and continue to work towards our vision of saving 100,000 lives and $1.5billion in healthcare costs.”

Owlstone’s Breath Biopsy platform is a non-invasive system that captures and analyses breath samples for the presence of trace chemicals related to disease activity.

The aim is to use it to find volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breath that could help doctors catch IPF at an early stage – a critical advance, as it would enable timely treatment that can prevent the debilitating loss of pulmonary function.

IPF is an irreversible and incurable disease that kills as many people as breast cancer every year.

The Owlstone Medical team
The Owlstone Medical team

The IPF Catalyst Challenge was created by Three Lakes Partners, a venture philanthropy.

MD Ken Bahk said: “We created the IPF Catalyst Challenge on behalf of the countless patients around the world living with this largely ignored, heartbreaking disease.

“By collaborating with brilliant minds and innovative thinkers across the globe, we knew we could attack IPF from all sides and truly make progress.”

The other winners were Advanced Interactive Response Systems (AIRS), who will develop a portable oxygen device with monitoring system to improve IPF patient health and care-giver performance, and patientMpower, based in London, Dublin and Chicago, which will develop a mobile platform to allow IPF patients to track their disease.

Owlstone Medical is based on Cambridge Science Park
Owlstone Medical is based on Cambridge Science Park

Among the other finalists – and the only other company from the UK – was Cambridge Respiratory Innovations Limited (CRiL), of Swavesey. It has created the N-Tidal respiratory monitor platform, which measures carbon dioxide in normal tidal breathing using nanotechnology to indicate changes in a patient’s respiratory performance and predict the onset of worsening conditions.

Both Owlstone and CRiL have been aided by SBRI Healthcare, the NHS England initiative that supports innovative healthcare companies.

Karen Livingstone, national director of SBRI Healthcare, said: “We are so pleased to see SBRI companies from the UK raising their profile in the international markets and being recognised for their advanced and evidence-based innovation.”



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