Breath Biopsy® - Biomarkers on Exhaled Breath

Non-invasive analysis of biomarkers on breath in early detection and precision medicine

What is Breath Biopsy?

Exhaled breath is more than just air, it contains over 1,000 volatile organic compounds (VOC) as well as microscopic aerosol particles, also known as respiratory droplets, originating from the lungs and airways. Both VOCs and breath aerosol represent rich sources of biological information. Breath Biopsy provides an entirely new way to access this information by collecting and analyzing breath samples. This makes it possible to:

  • Investigate biomarkers for disease early detection
  • Stratify patients by phenotype for precision medicine
  • Detect and monitor response to treatments
  • Measure exposure to hazardous substances and their impact on the body

Unlike liquid and tissue biopsies, which require blood or tissue samples to be taken, Breath Biopsy provides a completely non-invasive solution that maximizes patient comfort.

Types of Biomarkers

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What are Breath Biomarkers?

Breath biomarkers largey arise either as VOCs captured from the air or as non-volatiles found within respiratory droplets from exhaled breath aerosols. Both sources are of great interest for research and medical applications as they provide complementary information. Many exhaled VOCs are the products of metabolism and so reflect biochemical activities within the body.

Respiratory droplets can contain non-volatile metabolites, proteins, DNA and viral pathogens offering insights into other biological processes. Both sample types can also be sources of data relating to environmental factors such as pollutants and chemical exposures that can have impacts on long-term health.

Due to their volatile nature, VOCs in breath are typically small molecules. They can arise from both external sources (food, smoking, pollution, chemicals) and from within the body itself, as such they can reflect biochemical and metabolic activity as well as environmental effects. Endogenous VOCs are often the product of metabolic processes and, as such, the metabolic effects of diseases are reflected in the pattern of exhaled VOCs. Samples are typically analyzed and VOCs identified using detailed chemical analysis tools such as mass spectrometry. Non-invasive Breath Biopsy represents an adaptable and accessible means to detect and measure VOCs as biomarkers for disease.


By contrast, exhaled aerosols contain a range of larger particles of potential clinical relevance including non-volatile metabolites, proteins, nucleotides, and even whole viruses, which are also suitable for non-invasive collection and analysis. Depending on the biomarker, a range of additional analytical solutions are available, such as antibody-based assays, PCR and DNA sequencing as well as liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS).


Breath Biopsy® Complete Guide - VOCs as Biomarkers for Disease


Investigate Breath Biomarkers with Breath Biopsy

The Breath Biopsy Collection Station, featuring the ReCIVA® Breath Sampler and CASPER™ Portable Air Supply enables reliable, reproducible collection of breath VOCs for a wide range of applications. Subjects breathe a controlled supply of air, and samples of their breath are captured and stabilized on Breath Biopsy Cartridges, which can be shipped for processing and analysis at our specialized Breath Biopsy Laboratory

Using an advanced analysis platform built on GC-Orbitrap™ technology we can support high-resolution targeted and untargeted biomarker investigation, performing statistical analyses and providing detailed reporting of results to help identify and develop biomarkers of interest for a range of applications.

This approach can also be combined with exogenous VOC (EVOC®) Probes, which further increase sensitivity by targeting specific biological processes for exhaled VOC analysis.

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What are the key applications of Breath Biopsy?

Biomarkers originating from all parts of the body are captured in breath, making Breath Biopsy applicable to a wide range of diseases including inflammatory, respiratory, liver, metabolic, cardiovascular and infectious diseases as well as various cancers. The nature of Breath Biopsy, and breath biomarkers, make them perfectly suited to addressing two of the major challenges of healthcare today: early detection and precision medicine.Breath Biopsy Applications

Early Detection

For many diseases, the key determining factor in successful treatment and recovery is how early in its development the disease is identified. When identified at an early stage, before significant damage has been done to the body, treatment is much more likely to be effective. Changes in breath biomarker concentrations occur at the very earliest stages of disease, which means that detecting these biomarkers can allow for disease diagnosis before other physical symptoms have become apparent. Moreover, breath biomarkers can be pre-concentrated in our collection devices allowing even greater sensitivity and enabling detection at much earlier stages. Particular applications include the early detection of cancer, identifying the early stages of liver disease progression and the detection and control of infectious diseases.

Precision Medicine

Precision medicine is concerned with tailoring treatments to the individual biology of each patient. In many situations, it can be difficult to identify the correct treatment for patients, as a certain set of symptoms can be associated with many different underlying conditions. Genetic testing offers a partial solution in some cases, but it can only provide a partial result that doesn’t account for lifestyle and environmental factors contributing to illness or response to therapy. Because Breath Biopsy directly accesses the underlying molecular mechanisms involved in disease, it can directly help to stratify patients and identify the most appropriate treatments. It also has the potential to be used in monitoring patient responses to drugs by way of their metabolism, an area known as pharmacobreathomics.

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