The Growth of Breath Research in Clinical Trials since 1994

Published on 07 Dec 18, under Breath Biopsy, Cancer, Cardiovascular & metabolic disease, Clinical Trials, Lung & Respiratory, Science & Research

This blog was initially published in December 2018. We aim to update it with new data on a regular basis. The last update was on 1st June 2022.

Cumulative number of clinical trials involving breath analysis

Analysis of all clinical trial data1 shows that between 1994 and 2021, 846 trials have used or are using a form of breath analysis in their workflow. During this time period there has been a consistent rise in the number of clinical trials involving breath analysis starting each year. This trend indicates a growing interest in the clinical application of breath-based biomarkers (Figure 1). We had expected to see a decrease in the number of clinical trials launching in 2020 and 2021, as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the projected decrease in some traditionally popular areas of breath research has seemingly been counterbalanced by the large increase in clincal trials relating to infectious diseases (and COVID-19 in particular) - with numbers remaining strong (over 70 new trials started each year from 2019-21). 

Clinical Trials blog updated graph
Figure 1. There has been a steady rise in numbers of clinical trials using breath analysis. Data retrieved from, with search criteria: ["breath analysis" OR "breath VOC" OR "breath biomarker" OR "breath volatile organic compound"]


Study area categorization in 846 clinical trials using breath analysis

The identified clinical trials cover a range of conditions and utilities, demonstrating the breadth of possible applications for breath analysis. A breakdown of the research areas represented in these trials is shown in Figure 2. 

Clinical trials data - Bubble % v3-01
Figure 2. Breakdown of study area category of 846 clinical trials using breath analysis in their workflow. Trials analysing a specific methodology or tool for disease detection/type/severity were classified as ‘Test Development’. Studies that use breath research in analysis or comparison of therapies and treatments were considered to be ‘Drug Development’ trials. All other trials were classified by disease area. A significant proportion of the Gastrointestinal studies focus on H. Pylori infections. All data was retrieved from


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1. Data from

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