Find out how Disc Pump has enabled a new diagnostic modality in Owlstone Medical's ReCIVA, a breathalyser for disease.

LEE Ventus and Owlstone Medical have collaborated to create the next generation of leading edge diagnostic platforms, delivering systems with the potential to transform approaches to non-invasive point of care diagnostics. Integration of the LEE Ventus Disc Pump device within Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy® diagnostic system has broadened the possibilities for these clinical tools and may lead to improved outcomes for thousands of patients through early detection of cancers, infectious diseases and inflammatory conditions.

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Breath Biopsy® technology

Owlstone Medical has developed a breathalyser for disease, which has been refined and enhanced through the integration of Disc Pump. The Breath Biopsy® technology is designed to enable early detection of lung and bowel cancers through analysis of chemical micro-signatures known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) within the breath.

Breath samples are collected via the Owlstone Medical Respiration Collector for In Vitro Analysis (ReCIVA) Breath Sampler device. The Lonestar VOC Analyzer is then used to identify molecular biomarkers at very low concentrations within the breath sample using highly sensitive Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry (FAIMS) technology. The system allows subtle changes to be detected at very early stages of disease, often before physical symptoms are apparent.

Early diagnosis is critical for successful treatment of cancer. Around 90% of bowel cancer patients will survive the disease for more than 5 years if diagnosed at the earliest stage and around 70% of lung cancer patients will survive for at least a year following early diagnosis compared with a survival rate of just 14% for people diagnosed with the most advanced stage of disease.1

I believe that the Breath Biopsy® technology offers a real opportunity to improve the lives of patients. Working with LEE Ventus has enabled us to elevate this diagnostic platform further, providing an extremely sensitive and accurate system that is also portable and user-friendly.

Billy Boyle, Founder and CEO, Owlstone Medical Limited

The Breath Biopsy® system - ReCIVA Breath Sampler and Lonestar VOC Analyzer

A. ReCIVA Breath Sampler

A. The ReCIVA Breath Sampler reliably and reproducibly captures breath samples for analysis

The LEE Ventus Disc Pump – elevating breath-capture and FAIMS sensitivity to deliver unrivalled quality

Owlstone Medical recognised the possibilities offered by the LEE Ventus Disc Pump and integrated the unique micropump into the ReCIVA Breath Sampler to provide precise sampling and high quality signal detection throughout the diagnostic process.

Disc Pump provided a solution to the challenge of precision sampling in the ReCIVA Breath Sampler device, allowing the correct fraction of exhaled breath to be collected for analysis. Depending on the particular disease under investigation, the VOCs of interest will be present in different fractions of the exhaled breath. The high frequency of operation and low inertia of the Disc Pump operating mechanism enable ReCIVA to respond to carbon dioxide (CO2) levels within the device in less than a millisecond. This speed of response offers clear benefits over conventional motor-driven pumps, which are associated with high levels of inertia. Disc Pump allows the ReCIVA device to respond in real-time to the patient’s breathing patterns so that the relevant fractions may be collected precisely.

ReCIVA was named Invention of the Year in the 2017 Top 50 Digital Health Awards in recognition of the product’s potential contribution towards improved healthcare provision.

Application of ReCIVA in combination with the FAIMS technology for VOC analysis is currently being assessed at key lung cancer centres across Europe as part of the Lung Cancer Indicator Detection (LuCID) trial, the largest breath-based clinical trial ever undertaken for early detection of cancer, led by Professor Robert Rintoul at Papworth Hospital near Cambridge, UK.

The LEE Ventus Disc Pump

Disc Pump won the Institute of Physics Inaugural Business Innovation Award in 2012. This unique micropump uses a piezoelectric actuator, ultrasonic resonance and a patented ultra-fast valve technology to deliver pumped flow.

Disc Pump is designed to deliver:

  • Silent operation
  • Portability - small size and light weight
  • Exceptional pressure and flow
  • Ultra-fast millisecond response to set-point changes
  • Ultra-low pulsatility output delivering unrivalled smooth flow
  • Full control flexibility

Supporting delivery through close collaboration and technical expertise

The integration of Disc Pump and further development of these clinical tools was very much a collaboration between LEE Ventus and Owlstone Medical. In addition to Disc Pump, LEE Ventus provided drive printed circuit boards (PCBs), firmware and the technical support necessary for successful integration of the pump into the ReCIVA Breath Sampler and Lonestar VOC Analyzer.

LEE Ventus’ novel pump has enabled the evolution of our breath capture and analysis platforms – creating a highly responsive, extremely sensitive cancer detection system.

Alastair Taylor, Chief Product Manager, Owlstone Medical Limited

Each company brought complimentary skills and technical expertise to the partnership with a common understanding of the exceptional standards and quality that the final product should deliver.

LEE Ventus are extremely proud and excited to have collaborated with Owlstone Medical on the development of their diagnostic platforms. Owlstone Medical’s creativity and vision led to the identification of Disc Pump as a solution to the challenges they were facing, releasing the potential of their diagnostic systems and elevating the precision and accuracy that they are able to offer.

Tom Harrison, LEE Ventus


  1. Cancer Research UK. Why is early diagnosis important? Available at:

Download the Owlstone Medical case study pdf2.08 MB