AUG 21, 2017 3:41 PM PDT

Saliva Reveals Asthma Risks

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Tests that aim to diagnose asthma in young children can often be highly stressful to both the child and the parents. Furthermore, the distress is compounded by the large margin of inaccuracy with the current available methods, most of which are not well suited for small children. But, patients could be on the road to a much less invasive and stressful asthma test that would only involve a spit sample. The test may also have the potential to diagnose the severity and prognosis of the disease – information that could guide treatment plants for the tiny patients.

Image credit: Pixabay.com
 

In the U.S. alone, nearly 24 million Americans suffer from asthma. Of these, about a quarter (6.3 million) are children. Asthma is characterized by difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The symptoms are usually brought on by certain allergens, such as tobacco smoke or dust, which irritate the airways.
 
With today’s medical innovations, patients with asthma learn how to prevent or manage their symptoms. Patients often carry inhalers (bronchodilators) that can provide quick short-term relief by relieving the swollen airways. Other treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs, such as inhaled corticosteroids, which work by dampening the body’s immune response to allergen triggers.
 
However, before patients can be treated for asthma, they must be appropriately diagnosed. Current tests include measuring the lung’s air capacity, or testing the body’s blood and urine for asthma biomarkers. While these methods may be amenable for most adults, it’s not so easy for young children and old people.
 


As such, a team from Loughborough University and Nottingham City Hospital in the United Kingdom asked whether asthma biomarkers may be reliably found in patient’s saliva. They used liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to analyze saliva samples from asthma patients and compared that to healthy controls.
 
Indeed, saliva samples appear to show a unique metabolic profile for asthma patients. "Ten discriminant features were identified that distinguished between moderate asthma and healthy control samples with an overall recognition ability of 80 percent during training of the model and 97 percent for model cross-validation," the team wrote.
 
"Unlike other sampling methods, such as expired breath analysis, saliva can be collected by passive drool from the very young to the very old without causing distress,” said Colin Creaser, senior author of the study.
 
This means a simple cheek swab could provide all the information to diagnose asthma in even babies. Furthermore, the team noted the metabolic profile of the biomarkers could reveal the severity the disease and its progression. These valuable information could help doctors customize treatment plans for each asthma patient, making it more likely that they will have good outcomes. Of note, these results, promising as they may be for now, have to be repeated many more times in clinical trials.

Additional source: Loughborough University, CDC

About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
SEP 28, 2022
Health & Medicine
After COVID-19 Infection, Risk of Blood Clots Could Remain for a Year
SEP 28, 2022
After COVID-19 Infection, Risk of Blood Clots Could Remain for a Year
Blood clots are a known risk from a COVID-19 infection. Blood clots are clumps of blood that naturally form to help the ...
OCT 16, 2022
Neuroscience
How Does the Brain Recover After an Injury?
OCT 16, 2022
How Does the Brain Recover After an Injury?
A recent report by the 2022 Lancet Neurology Commission has highlighted the prevalence of traumatic brain injury, which ...
OCT 07, 2022
Technology
App Uses Someone's Voice to Detect Parkinson's or Severe COVID-19
OCT 07, 2022
App Uses Someone's Voice to Detect Parkinson's or Severe COVID-19
Diagnosing health conditions can be particularly challenging. Oftentimes, diagnosis requires several different data poin ...
OCT 20, 2022
Cardiology
Time-restricted Eating Plus HIIT Improves Health Measures
OCT 20, 2022
Time-restricted Eating Plus HIIT Improves Health Measures
Combining time-restricted eating and HIIT may improve health measures more than either alone.
OCT 14, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Pilot Study Examines How Medicinal Cannabis Mitigates Children's Symptoms in Palliative Care
OCT 14, 2022
Pilot Study Examines How Medicinal Cannabis Mitigates Children's Symptoms in Palliative Care
A future pilot study conducted by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and funded by the Australian State Gov ...
NOV 22, 2022
Cardiology
The Foods and Behaviors Most Associated with Long-Term Weight Gain
NOV 22, 2022
The Foods and Behaviors Most Associated with Long-Term Weight Gain
Specific dietary and behavioral choices are associated with long-term weight gain.
Loading Comments...