Breath testing offers several benefits over traditional sampling methods. However, this option has still not seen wide adoption in the clinic. In a recent Q&A with G2 Intelligence managing editor Rachel Muenz, Billy Boyle, M.Eng, CEO of Owlstone Medical, discusses the challenges that have prevented wider clinical use of breath biopsy, as well as key developments in the breath testing industry.
One recent trend Boyle discusses includes the use of exogenous volatile organic compound (EVOC) probes in breath testing, which he says can lead to better test performance.
“This method has been used successfully with the EVOC probe limonene, which can provide a read-out of liver function for the early diagnosis of liver disease via a breath test,” he says. “EVOC probes are a successful principle that can be utilized in breath research across a range of contexts.”
The Potential of Breath Testing
Along with its potential as an early disease detection tool, he adds that, because breath testing can be done more often than other sampling methods over long time periods, it could be used as a real-time longitudinal monitoring tool to provide a better picture of physiological processes over time. “Frequent breath sampling can be used in combination with an EVOC probe approach to assess the changes in breath in response to a substance and use this information to build a stronger view of how the body’s various systems are functioning,” he says.
As for where breath biopsy is at in terms of wider clinical use, Boyle says that though there are some breath tests available on the market, such as those for monitoring gastrointestinal conditions, “more breath compounds need to be validated as biomarkers of different physiological processes” for these tests to be used more widely.
To read the full interview, which includes Boyle’s advice for labs adding breath biopsy to their workflows and the developments in the industry he’s most excited about, sign in to your Diagnostic Testing & Emerging Technologies subscription, or sign up for a free trial.