Owlstone Medical has announced that it’s investigating a novel approach to breath-based testing for the onset, progression, and treatment of various diseases.

The company, which focuses on Breath Biopsy for applications in early disease detection and precision medicine, will use ‘Exogenous Volatile Organic Compound (EVOC) Probes’, enabling Breath Biopsy to be deployed for a wider range of applications.

EVOC Probes represent a “powerful new approach to breath-based diagnosis”, explained Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical.

He continued, “by deploying this complementary technology alongside endogenous VOC biomarker discovery efforts as part of our Breath Biopsy platform, Owlstone Medical is now able to bring a much broader range of tools to bear in solving the challenge of the earlier detection of disease and the more efficient and effective discovery, development, and use of novel therapeutics.”

The company has pioneered the use of EVOC Probes to investigate the onset, progression, and treatment of disease, as the idea has been applied previously but has been limited to stable isotope-labelled probes.

Owlstone plans to develop and deploy a range of externally administered compounds that fall under the FDA GRAS (Generally Recognised As Safe) list and through breath analysis, explore how they are absorbed, metabolised or excreted to give a direct measure of metabolic activity and organ function.

The compounds that will be incorporated into EVOC Probes operate through known metabolic pathways, and so measurement of their breakdown provides direct insight into the functioning of that pathway. As these compounds are not normally present on breath, their detection and measurement provide a very clear signal that offers the potential for a new wave of substrate-based breath tests.