Owlstone Medical, a diagnostics company, has entered into collaboration with Imperial College London, the world leading science-based research institution and university.
The company’s breath analysis technology will be deployed in an ongoing study led by Imperial College to evaluate underlying causes of exacerbations in severe asthma patients.
An estimated 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, with 250,000 annual deaths attributed to the disease.
The fundamental causes of asthma are not completely understood; however, the strongest risk factors for developing asthma are a combination of genetic predisposition with environmental exposure to allergens and irritants including respiratory infections.
Predicting and characterising patients who are likely to have an exacerbation despite optimal therapy is a critical step towards guiding patient management and improving outcomes for severe asthma sufferers.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breath have been shown to correlate to inflammatory subtypes in asthma, and can also discriminate between viral and bacterial infection, which are extremely relevant in treatment optimisation.
Owlstone Medical uses the Respiration Collector for In Vitro Analysis (ReCIVA), in combination with the Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometer (FAIMS) sensor platform, to accurately and selectively detect volatile organic compounds in breath.
Commenting on the study, Fan Chung, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at Imperial College Faculty of Medicine, said: 'The causes of the exacerbations that occur in those suffering from severe asthma remain a mystery; elucidating these will represent a major advance that could lead to preventive measures and better targeted treatments.'
'VOC analysis of exacerbations will enable a more rapid translation towards point of care analysis and correct treatment of patients,' added Ian Adcock, Professor of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College.
Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical, said: 'Characterising asthma exacerbations and predicting how patients will respond in certain situations will lead to improved treatment regimes, reduced hospital admissions and emergency treatments, and improved quality of life for asthma patients.'
'Owlstone Medical was created specifically to advance our disease breathalyser and we will be providing both clinical and academic researchers and pharma companies with access to our technology as part of our services offering, to enable the development of more effective treatments and ultimately better patient outcomes,' he added.