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US Department of Defense Awards Owlstone Medical Contract for Breath-Based Disease Detection

NEW YORK – Owlstone Medical said Wednesday that it has secured a contract with the US Department of Defense to develop the firm's handheld battery-operated instrument for the detection of respiratory infectious diseases.

Cambridge, UK-based Owlstone said the contract inked with the DoD's Defense Innovation Unit for exhaled breath diagnostics will support for a two-year period the development of technology to identify pre-symptomatic viral and bacterial diseases through volatile organic compounds in exhaled breath using an instrument suitable for deployment in challenging environments. The instrument would incorporate the firm's field asymmetric ion mobility spectrometer (FAIMS) technology.

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Initial research supported by the contract will focus on identifying and validating breath biomarkers for pathogens and defining performance requirements for the device. The work will be supported by clinical studies at Duke University. A potential second phase for the project would support further development of the instrument and preparation for manufacturing and delivery of the instrument.

Owlstone CEO Billy Boyle said in a statement that the company has already developed a broad list of candidate biomarkers it could use in this project.

"We have a proprietary technology in FAIMS and extensive experience with device development and sensor design, including in small handheld devices," he said. "With proven expertise and technology in both areas, we believe Owlstone is uniquely positioned to support the EXHALE project and are pleased that the DIU agrees and has awarded us this contract."