June 7, 2024

Researchers from Zurich Exhalomics groups attended the Breath Summit 2024 in Indianapolis

Researchers from Zurich Exhalomics groups attended the Breath Summit 2024 in Indianapolis
Stamatios Giannoukos, Felix Schmidt, Miloš Selaković, Renato Zenobi of the Zurich Exhalomics network attended the Breath Summit 2024 in Indianapolis, where they participated in discussions and presentations on the latest advancements and challenges in the field of breath analysis. This event gathered leading experts, practitioners, and enthusiasts to explore the latest advancements in breath research and its impact on health and well-being. From insightful keynote speeches to interactive workshops, it was a truly enriching experience. We are grateful for the opportunity to connect with such a vibrant community and inspired to integrate what we learned into our everyday research activities.

One of the key topics atthe conference was the sampling of breath, which continues to be a critical area of focus for many researchers and companies. Many of the lectures discussed recent advancements in clinical breath sampling for conditions such as COPD, cystic fibrosis, infections, heart failure, and cancer.

Despite advancements, many still rely on traditional methods of sampling, storage, and off-line analysis. The need for standardization in Exhaled Breath Condensate(EBC) and breath sampling was also emphasized, highlighting the importance of consistent and reliable methods.

Another significant point discussed was the establishment of baseline levels of exhaledVolatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from healthy individuals. This baseline is often neglected but is crucial for accurate comparisons and data interpretation.Additionally, the profile of room air and background VOCs should be recorded and subtracted to avoid skewed results.

Quantification in EBC remains a complex challenge. Many studies suffer from having too small a sample size, making them prone to overinterpretation when numerous signals are detected. The use of robust statistical tools is necessary to avoid misinterpretation of the data.

The conference also explored the skin volatilome and the development of wearable sampling devices, which are becoming an increasingly important area of research. A significant milestone discussed was the creation of a Metabolite Database, which is anticipated to become a part of the "Human Breath Atlas."

A key takeaway from the conference was the importance of looking for multiple compounds rather than focusing on single marker molecules. The metabolic origin of these compounds is vital, as evidenced by a presentation showing that isoprene, a frequently detected biomarker, is completely absent in individuals with a specific genetic mutation.

Despite the wealth of data presented, many researchers did not report the chemical identity of the biomarkers they detected. This reticence could be due to intellectual property concerns or simply due to difficulties in identifying the compounds.

The conference concluded with a provocative lecture by Jochen Schubert from Rostock, who posed a challenging question: "WHY has none of the fancy breath tests made it into clinical practice?" This question underscored the gap between research advancements and their practical application in clinical settings, prompting attendees to reflect on the future directions of breath analysis research.

The Breath Summit 2025 will take place September 14-19 in Innsbruck, Austria, and will be organized byChristopher Mayhew.