Zurich Exhalomics – Diagnosis via Exhaled Breath

Breathe out and get a simple and accurate diagnosis of your disease. This is the ambitious goal of Zurich Exhalomics, a flagship project of the University Medicine Zurich initiative.

Researchers of the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich can today already diagnose certain diseases based on our breath, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis or asthma.

Our breath reveals whether we’re healthy or sick

The researchers working on the Exhalomics project have developed a groundbreaking method: they can measure the substances contained in exhaled breath by blowing it through a heated tube and then into a mass spectrometer. Every breath is made up of many different molecules, forming what is called an exhalome, which can provide information about our metabolism. For example, the exhalome can tell doctors what we’ve eaten and whether we’re tired, healthy or sick.

Supporting non-invasive diagnostic methods

Despite its initial success, this promising method still needs to be developed further. The measuring and analysis instruments need to become simpler and smaller so that they can be used in everyday hospital life. The plan is to develop a portable device that will allow doctors to analyze a patient’s exhalome in a matter of minutes. The researchers also want to expand the list of diseases that can be recognized, for example pneumonia or lung cancer.

We need your financial support to help this promising project reach the next level.

How exhalomics researchers measure and diagnose exhaled breath


Laura Furlanetto
Acquisition / Communication

+41 44 634 61 82