Breath Biopsy: a Mission to Save 100,000 Lives

How Owlstone Medical has developed a breathaylzer for disease and is on a mission to save 100,000 lives

Billy Boyle, co-founder, Owlstone Ltd

  • Mon 2nd Oct 2017
  • 19:30
  • The Wolfson Hall, Churchill College, Storey's Way, Cambridge, CB3 0DS
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This is the remarkable story of how microchip chemical sensor technology originally developed for the military to detect explosives is now being applied in medicine to discover tell-tale signs of cancer in a patient’s breath. ’Breath Biopsy’ has the potential to revolutionise healthcare for patients, with the promise of quick and painless breath tests that could help detect cancer earlier, when treatments are more effective and more lives can be saved. CEO Billy Boyle describes Owlstone Medical’s journey and progress towards their mission to save 100,000 lives.

Billy Boyle is an engineering graduate from Cambridge University. He is one of the original co-founders of Owlstone Inc, spun out of Cambridge in 2004, which has raised $28M in investment and won >$25M in defence contracts. He initially worked with silicon foundries in the design and fabrication of the core microchip technology and is co-inventor on 19 patents. He then assumed a commercial role with P&L responsibility for the Scientific Instruments and Industrial business units; responsible for sales of Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry (FAIMS) products and contracts with >150 clients globally, including Agilent, Thermo, Roche Diagnostics, Samsung, GSK, 4D Pharma, Mayo Clinic and the NHS.

Billy started to focus on the medical applications of FAIMS technology after his wife, Kate, was diagnosed and later died of colon cancer as a result of a late diagnosis. He worked closely with clinical partners who integrated FAIMS technology across a broad spectrum of clinical trials in cancer, inflammatory disease & infectious disease.

After positive clinical trial results he headed up the newly formed Medical business unit, which won a £1M NHS contract for LuCID to use FAIMS technology in the early detection of lung cancer. With ongoing clinical and commercial success, Billy led the process to spin out Owlstone Medical Ltd and became the founding CEO upon the close of a $7M investment in March 2016. The mission of Owlstone Medical is to save 100,000 lives and $1.5B in healthcare costs.

Billy is also a judge for the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Pioneer award and a trustee of the Linacre Institute.