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Saliva test for asthma could make diagnosis easier, more accurate

A test for 10 biomarkers was significantly accurate during its design but researchers say it needs to be verified in larger trials.

By Stephen Feller
Saliva test for asthma could make diagnosis easier, more accurate
A saliva test for 10 biomarkers indicating asthma could prove to be more accurate and convenient than other methods of diagnosis, according to researchers in England development the technique. Photo by Image Point Fr/Shutterstock

LEICESTERSHIRE, England, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- A saliva test for asthma could be more accurate than standard lung function tests and less distressing to patients than tests of other fluids, say researchers in England working to develop it.

The saliva test is detailed in a study published in the journal Analytical Methods. Researchers at the University of Loughborough developed the test based on a method of metabolic profiling saliva.

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Colin Creaser, who led the research team developing the profiling method, said they were curious to see if it could be adapted for asthma by looking for similar elements in people's saliva.

"We were very excited to discover that [the analysis techniques] could" be adapted for asthma diagnosis, Creaser said in a press release.

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Generally, asthma is diagnosed by measuring airflow lung capacity, though they can be inaccurate and don't offer additional information about what is causing the condition, the researchers said. And while blood, urine or sputum tests are accurate, they can be distressing and invasive.

Using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, the researchers identified 10 specific biomarkers in saliva that differed between healthy study participants and those with moderate asthma, achieving 80 percent accuracy while designing the analysis model and 97 percent accuracy in validation.

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The researchers say the testing technique needs to be validated in larger trials, but shows promise as an easier, potentially more reliable way of diagnosing children and adults with the condition.

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"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," Creaser said.

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