Man invents cancer breathalyser after wife dies aged 36 leaving twin sons


Owlstone Medical co-founder Billy Boyle was inspired by the death of his wife Kate to colon cancer (PA Science)

An inventor behind a new cancer breathalyser which could save thousands of lives created the machine after his wife died aged just 36.

Billy Boyle’s wife Kate died from colon cancer on Christmas Day 2014, just before their twin sons woke up.

Boyle says he diverted his energies into research at his firm Owlstone Medical, which developed a breathalyser-style device to detect cancer early.

The biopsy ReCIVA Breath Sampler this week won a MacRobert Award engineering prize.

ReCIVA Breath Collection Mask. Source: Oilstone Medical Ltd.
ReCIVA Breath Collection Mask. Source: Oilstone Medical Ltd.

Boyle believes it could save up to 100,000 lives and reduce world healthcare costs by.£1.13billion.


Boyle said, ‘Every day I wake up angry that my children don’t have a mother.”

‘We know that in cancer, early diagnosis is what will save lives.

‘But a lot of tests today are not very pleasant and that means people just don’t show up.

‘You need to have tests which are acceptable to the patients. It doesn’t get better than breath.’

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