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19 April, 2017 - 10:44 By Kate Sweeney

Owlstone colonoscopy collaboration with Mayo Clinic

Billy Boyle Owlstone Medical

Owlstone Medical in Cambridge, which has invented a breathalyser to detect early-stage cancer, is collaborating with the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in the US on a colonoscopy initiative.

The UK company’s FAIMS technology is being used in a clinical trial to evaluate its performance as a rapid, point-of-care test to non-invasively assess the adequacy of bowel preparation prior to colonoscopy.

Mayo Clinic is a world-leading non-profit medical practice, education, and medical research group.  

Colonoscopies are one of the most common gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures with approximately 14 million procedures performed annually in the US. It is estimated that up to a quarter of these procedures have inadequate bowel preparation, resulting in the need for repeat colonoscopies or increasing the risk that diagnosis of disease, such as colorectal cancer, will be missed.

In a pilot study, volatile organic compound (VOC) biomarkers emitted from pre-procedural stool samples were captured and analysed using Owlstone Medical’s ATLAS Headspace Sampler and Lonestar VOC Analyzer, a Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometer (FAIMS) sensor platform. 

Results demonstrated that the company’s technology is able to rapidly and effectively identify patients inadequately prepped for colonoscopy with 100 per cent sensitivity and 80 per cent specificity.

Following the successful pilot study, Mayo Clinic and Owlstone Medical have embarked on a larger clinical trial under the guidance of gastroenterologists, Liam Zakko, M.D. and Kenneth Wang, M.D. 

The trial aims to evaluate FAIMS technology as a pre-endoscopic test to ensure that colonoscopies are only performed when patients are adequately prepped, thus reducing the number of unsuccessful colonoscopy procedures and enabling disease such as colorectal cancer to be diagnosed more effectively. The results of the pilot study are to be presented at Digestive Disease Week 2017 in Chicago on May 6-9.

Billy Boyle (pictured), co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical, said: “It is a privilege to be working with one of the leading cancer centres in the US and to have achieved such promising results from our initial pilot study together.

“The work not only validates our technology for use in clinical practice but also demonstrates its scope for wide medical application using other biospecimens in addition to breath.” 

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