Owlstone Medical Ltd, a diagnostics company developing a breathalyzer for disease, today announced it is one of the three winners of the global Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) Catalyst Challenge, sharing the $1,000.000 (£720,000 GBP) award, each receiving $333,333 (£240,000 GBP). Selected from a short list of nine finalists, out of hundreds of registrants, the winners were announced last night in Chicago as part of the final phase of the Challenge.
Owlstone Medical Ltd won the award with its Breath Biopsy platform, a non-invasive system that can easily and accurately capture and analyze breath samples for the presence of trace chemicals related to disease activity. The proven technology will be applied to find volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breath that could help speed up diagnosis of IPF, and catch the disease at an earlier stage. This would result in a major improvement for patients by enabling timely treatment and preventing the debilitating loss of pulmonary function.
IPF is a chronic, irreversible and incurable disease that kills as many people as breast cancer every year, however, it is less widely known, resulting in a lack of innovative solutions, funding and research. The IPF Catalyst Challenge was created by Three Lakes Partners, a venture philanthropy committed to ending IPF, to engage global innovators and entrepreneurs in the tech, healthcare, and scientific research communities to find quality-of-life solutions for IPF patients and their caregivers. It is one of the largest healthcare competitions in the United States, and the first time a cash and incentive purse of this magnitude has been put in place to help people with IPF. Three Lakes Partners collaborated with MATTER, the healthcare technology incubator and innovation hub; IDEO an award-winning global design and innovation consultancy; and Common Pool, renowned for creating competitions to solve the world's most challenging problems to establish the competition.
“We created the IPF Catalyst Challenge on behalf of the countless patients around the world living with this largely ignored, heartbreaking disease. By collaborating with brilliant minds and innovative thinkers across the globe, we knew we could attack IPF from all sides and truly make progress,” said Ken Bahk PhD, Managing Director, Three Lakes Partners.“We couldn’t be more thankful for the inspiring ideas we saw over the course of this competition, and are honored to help bring our winners’ solutions to life. We’re excited for the promise that lies ahead.”
Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical, said :
We are thrilled to win this award which recognizes the potential of our Breath Biopsy platform for the early detection of IPF. Breath Biopsy is already being used in clinical trials for a wide range of cancers, including lung and colorectal cancer, and has recently been integrated into a major clinical development program for a novel drug candidate for respiratory disease . In taking this step towards a Breathalyzer for IPF, we look forward to making a similar contribution to finding quality of life solutions for this devastating disease, and continue to work towards our vision of saving 100,000 lives and $1.5B in healthcare costs.