Medical diagnostics is often invasive, time-consuming or expensive - often all together. Wouldn’t it be nice to learn something about your state of health quickly, non-invasively and inexpensively with a simple breath test? The Zurich Exhalomics team is working on this vision. The aim is to make the exhalome, i.e. the entity of the exhaled molecules, interpretable and usable in everyday clinical practice.
The composition of the exhalome is not constant, but depends on a person's state of health. Not only in respiratory diseases, but also in many other metabolic diseases such as diabetes or nephropathies, disease-specific metabolic products, so-called biomarkers, can be detected in the breath. Other possible applications include pharmacokinetics, chronobiology and sports medicine. The improvement of patient comfort by introducing rapid and non-invasive diagnostic procedures will be a significant benefit, especially for children.
Zurich Exhalomics researchers are working on developing portable devices and efficient methods that can be used to diagnose and monitor a multitude of diseases and their therapies.
There are two strongly interacting research tracks: One key research area is the discovery of new biomarkers. This involves comparing the exhalome of patients to the one of healthy volunteers to identify new disease-specific molecules.
Track "Biomarker and Disease"
The other track focuses on the development of technologies and methods. Three complementary, non-invasive technologies are available for the efficient real-time analysis of the exhaled breath: secondary electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (SESI-MS), Mid-infrared laser spectroscopy and chemoresistive sensor arrays. These technologies are further promoted by the development of algorithms for automated data analysis.
Track "Technology Development"
The close, interinstitutional collaboration of researchers from ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich, the University Hospital Zurich, the University Children's Hospital Zurich, the University of Basel, the University Children's Hospital Basel, the Empa and the Paul Scherrer Institute enables all participants to benefit from each other's know-how and to work towards to the vision of a non-invasive medical diagnostics.