While there has been progress in making use of breath tests to guide clinical decision making, the full potential of exhaled breath analysis still remains to be exploited. Here we summarize some of the reasons why this is the case, what we have done so far to overcome some of the existing obstacles, and our vision of how we think breath analysis will play a more prominent role in the coming years. In particular, we envision that real-time high-resolution mass spectrometry will provide valuable information in biomarker discovery studies.
However, this can only be achieved by a coordinated effort, using standardized equipment and methods in multi-center studies to eventually deliver tangible advances in the field of breath analysis in a clinical setting. Concrete aspects such as sample integrity, compound identification, quantification and standardization are discussed. Novel secondary electrospray ionization developments with the aim of facilitating inter-groups comparisons and biomarker validation studies are also presented.