Owlstone Medical gets cash injection for breathalyzer tech, eyes China as ‘key market’

The company already has tie-ups with GSK, AZ and CRUK for its breathalyzer tech (Pixabay)

British medical technology firm Owlstone Medical has completed a total $50 million (£38 million) funding round as it looks to become a commercial company.

Cambridge, U.K.-based Owlstone spun out of its parent company of the same name in 2016 to apply ion mobility spectrometry technology to medical diagnostics.

Clinical trials in lung and colorectal cancers, more than $23 million in initial venture funding, a tie-up with GlaxoSmithKline and a pan-tumor collaboration with Cancer Research UK followed.


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Then, in March of this year, Owlstone pulled in $15 million (£11 million) cash. New backer Horizons Ventures—the investment arm of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing—co-led the round with the support of existing financier Aviva Ventures. Other existing investors also contributed to the round.

On Monday, it upped that even further in a second phase of funding, bringing the total to $50 million, designated to “support global commercial and development activities” for its so-called Breath Biopsy platform for early disease detection and precision medicine.

Owlstone plans to build further on its Breath Biopsy platform, developing the diagnostic as a pan-cancer test and branching out into infectious and inflammatory diseases. It launched its Breath Biopsy Kits back in March for use in clinical trials, and the following month set up a pact with AstraZeneca to see how breath can be used to seek out new biomarkers to help differentiate between disease phenotypes relevant for asthma and COPD.

Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical, said: “The closing of this round of financing marks a significant milestone for Owlstone Medical as it places us in a very secure financial position with a balance sheet sufficient to pursue all of our strategic commercial and development plans over the next several years, which we will execute through a combination of internal efforts and partnerships with industry leaders.

“We have been gratified by the high level of international interest we have received over the course of this raise, demonstrating that the need for improved diagnostic modalities that solve the challenges of early detection and precision medicine is global.

“We enjoyed particularly strong interest from Asian investors in the round, and as China is a key market for the company we are encouraged by the strategic value of these partners as we seek to accelerate entry into this market.”


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