Billy Boyle
Billy Boyle

Owlstone Medical said today it has completed a $50 million financing round, with proceeds set to fund the global commercialization of its Breath Biopsy platform, designed to diagnose for specific diseases by measuring the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from samples of breath.

The company said the financing will enable it to expand its commercial opportunities in precision medicine, including through the launch of targeted Breath Biopsy kits, as well as to enable further investment in the technology platform to support the development of additional “high-value” applications.

“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,” Billy Boyle, Owlstone Medical’s co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

Boyle co-founded Owlstone, a Cambridge University spinout, in 2004 as a manufacturer of chemical sensors in Cambridge, U.K. Owlstone Medical was spun out of that company and positioned as a clinical diagnostics developer to develop and commercialize its disease breathalyzer with applications in diagnosing cancer and inflammatory and infectious diseases, after his wife Kate, the mother of his twin sons, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2012. She died two years later, at age 36.

Last year Owlstone Medical launched a 1,400-patient clinical trial designed to assess the accuracy of its diagnostic technology in detecting the disease early, from samples of breath and urine. Owlstone Medical partnered in the trial with Warwick University and the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.

“Breath gives you that real unique advantage in terms of the test sensitivity, but also from the patient perspective. It’s the patient’s compliance and acceptability which is really important, and has historically been a major issue in colorectal cancer where other tests, be it a fecal-based test, or a colonoscopy, are very unpleasant,” Boyle told Clinical OMICs at the time.

Owlstone Medical said in March that the initial $15 million phase of the $50 million financing was co-led by Aviva Ventures, the venture capital arm of global insurance giant Aviva; and Horizons Ventures, the private investment arm of Mr. Li Ka-shing–Hong Kong’s richest man and the world’s 23rd richest billionaire, according to Forbes.

Horizons Ventures led the second $35 million phase, joined by global strategic investors that included Ventura Capital and Foxconn Technologies Group, the Taiwan-headquartered electronics products manufacturer.

“Following our initial investment in Owlstone Medical, we have become further convinced that Breath Biopsy has the potential to transform the fields of early cancer detection and precision medicine in the years to come,” stated Patrick Zhang, an investor with Horizons Ventures. “We believe that Owlstone Medical is uniquely positioned to be able to facilitate this change and so have provided additional support to help realize this vision.”

Owlstone Medical said it sought participation from investors that could contribute not only capital but strategic support for the business as well.

With its long-term investors in place, Owlstone Medical added, it is in position to benefit from improved access to key markets such as China, to clinical and academic researchers to support product development efforts, to high-quality manufacturing partners, and to additional international funding sources.

“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.” Boyle added.

The financing brings the total financing raised by Owlstone Medical to about $73 million since 2016.

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