Bioanalysis Zone

Owlstone Medical partner with Imperial College London in study investigating cause of asthma exacerbation


Earlier this week the medical diagnostics company, Owlstone Medical (Cambridge, UK), announced their partnership with Imperial College London (UK) in a collaborative study to investigate causes of severe asthma in patients.

It is estimated that nearly 250,000 deaths are attributed to the disease every year and around 300 million individuals are diagnosed with the disease globally.

Although the primary causes of asthma are still not well understood, certain risk factors are strong indicators of the development of the disease and could help clinicians guide patient management. One of the strongest risk factors for developing the disease involves a combination of genetic predisposition with environmental exposure to allergens.

“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” commented Fan Shung (Imperial College London, UK).

Monitoring individuals at risk of a severe asthma attack is essential to guide patient management and improve outcomes for patients. At present volatile organic compounds (VOCs) analysis in breath allows clinicians to better characterize asthma exacerbations in patients.

Ian Adcock (Imperial college London, UK) stated: “VOCs analysis of exacerbations will enable a more rapid translation towards point of care analysis and correct treatment of patients”.

The study led by Imperial College will utilize Owlstone Medical’s latest breath analyzer technology.

To accurately detect volatile organic compounds in breath, the diagnostics company have developed the Respiration Collector for In Vitro Analysis (ReCIVA) breath sampler combined with the Field Assymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometer (FAIMS) sensor platform.

Volatile organic compounds found in breath have demonstrated to correspond to inflammatory subtypes in asthma and can also assist clinicians differentiate between bacterial and viral infection, which is pertinent in optimization treatment for patients.

It is hoped that the collaborative study will allow both investigators and clinicians to improve patient management of the disease. The CEO of Owlstone Medical, Billy Boyle added: “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 breathalyzer 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 concluded.



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