In a major boon for UK diagnostics group Owlstone Medical, GlaxoSmithKline is incorporating the firm’s Breath Biopsy platform into the clinical development programme for its novel, experimental respiratory drug danirixin.

GSK will utilise Owlstone’s Breath Biopsy platform as part of a Phase II study that aims to assess whether it is possible to identify the right patient for the right treatment, as well as the treatment effects of a novel drug for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The platform will be used to capture Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in breath – which are produced by the body’s metabolism and relate directly to disease activity - completely non-invasively for “high sensitivity” analysis, Owlstone said.

The group’s Breath Biopsy clinical laboratory allows clinical and pharmaceutical partners to access comprehensive VOC biomarker discovery services and identify breath biomarkers for a range of precision medicine applications.

“We are very pleased to work with GSK as they lead the way in using breath VOC profiling to better understand a new drug’s treatment effects and its mechanism,” commented Billy Boyle, Owlstone’s co-founder and chief executive.

“We believe that the non-invasive Breath Biopsy can rapidly establish a central role in a variety of precision medicine applications such as patient stratification and monitoring treatment response,” he added, and said the company intends to work with “multiple pharmaceutical partners looking to optimise the health economic impact of their new medicines across a broad range of diseases by providing access to the data needed to ensure that the right therapy is given to the right patient at the right time.”

Owlstone says that with its focus on non-invasive early detection and precision medicine for cancer, inflammatory disease and infectious disease, it aims to save 100,000 lives and $1.5 billion in healthcare costs.